Sunday, 26 March 2017

Things I Hate: Designing for nobody

In my eyes, design is something initiated by a problem—design itself being a solution. It drives me nuts when I see things created for nobody, no reason, effectively no problem.

There seems to be a big culture of designing for nobody spinning around the outer layers of the industry, the 'pre-made logo' sales being the sore thumb sticking up towards me. As I line up my hammer to bluntly extinguish the existence of this metaphorical meat prosthetic, I can see in it's sweaty reflection how it's cheapening the industry—allowing the general public to believe that design is a space to simply facilitate their identity through convenience rather than the problem solving task it really is.

Come get your 90's .com logos, only $400!

Above displayed is a poisonous leech, misleading people to believe that they could just buy design as an item rather than a creative process, it's design's answer to the worn in the entrance to the Labyrinth. Ironically if you look at the prices of this small snippet of generic icons, you'll see for the most part a student could be happily paid half these prices to produce something much better. 

Though I cannot find the quote I believe a big cheese designer once said something along the lines of "Bad design costs more than good design"; which seems rather poignant here. For these look nice(ish) but they are bad design not because of their aesthetics but instead because of their poor suitability, their irrelevance to the actual brand—they were made for nobody, so work for nobody.

It's not just a small isolated problem of one or two websites selling the utopian ideal of buying the perfect logo—I find social media to be full of these annoying bloody things.
See above; it's a juicy stake of what every lazy corporate business person desires. It looks modern, minimal and it's animated; how could you ever be so lucky! 

"I get this logo and place it on my website this afternoon, just above my heavily copy-written 'company mantra', that'd be great!"

"Wait a minute, it's for sale. I can just spend money and now I've got the perfect logo. Wow isn't design great—those agencies are such rip-off merchants. I've saved so much money!"

Though it's a rife problem, as always there are exceptions to the rule—let me introduce you to Logo Pizza. A studio poking fun at the pre-made model but all the while making it a profitable experiment.
Logo pizza was a self initiated project from Metafizzy in which 50 pre-made logo were up for sale, though as one sold the price of the next logo would be $20 more expensive; meaning the faster you snapped one up, the cheaper it would be. Now, after a couple months of existence, it's developed a stalemate at a sizable $820 per logo—which isn't too bad for a little side project.

At the end of the day, I'll still rest my head on the pillow with a seething hatred for the 'pre-made' design culture—I imagine it's the same cheapening factor that fans of Slayer feel when they see a hoodie in Topshop, but it doesn't distract from the fact in both cases, they are very profitable for the humans who have consciouses in a different disposition.

Designing for nobody, I hate you; you can do it sort of right but it still doesn't make any sense to me. You are the lazy-man's branding solution and you are the punching bag of trends, clich├ęs and irrelevance alike. I hope you're proud of yourself.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Just the Tip: Social Media

Social media for me is a fine balance between love and hate. I love seeing other people's work and I love people seeing mine but I bloody hate using my time to operate and maintain it.

Whereas in the past employers may check your criminal history, or even your credit score if your soon-to-be employer is a bellend—now they just check your social media.
Within minutes, it's pretty easy for anyone to see if you are a funny bugger or a feckin' biggot.
That said, it can also reap such good rewards. You can get advice from fellow creatives, scouted for work by agencies and even the odd spam comment; you lucky people.

Tip 1: You don't need to be everywhere.
To be successful you don't need to be on ever social media platform ever. It's not realistic to keep up with all of them, and it's likely that you'll be posting and sharing the same content over all of them anyway. Pick one or two (maybe three if you have the spare time) that you actually like, that your perspective clients might use and stick to those.
For creatives, it's an easy choice. Instagram for work, Twitter for thoughts and LinkedIn for business.
Alongside that, these might be useful too: Behance, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube & Dribble.

Tip 2: Keep active or deactivate.
There is no bigger turn-off than an abandoned social media account. You might be great at keeping up your instagram but if someone stumbled across a pre-historic Dribble account of yours—you'll look a lot less professional by comparison.
psssst... It's easier to run a fewer accounts correctly than many poorly.

Tip 3: Always choose organic.
No, I'm not referring to overpriced vegetables, I'm talking about followers.
On any platform you want to have an organic growth, not fake followers. Though you might not think so, an account with thousands of purchased and 'fake' followers is really easy to spot.
30,000 followers, 6 images and 2 likes on each—yeah it's kind of obvious and you'll be instantly blacklisted from legitimate followers and clients.

Tip 4: Hastags are key
Look which hashtags are popular to the content you are producing and apply them liberally.
But beware, as useful as hashtags are, they are a few simple rules for them.
  1. Only use hashtags related to what you are posting, otherwise you'll look a little silly.
  2. Hashtags will get you 90% fake likes, but the 10% of legit like is worth the battle.
  3. Use a good amount, but don't use too many.
Tip 5: Social Media is your extended portfolio
For the majority, you'll likely be posting work that might not make the cut to your final portfolio but it's a big display of your character and your personality. As I said before, from checking social media people can tell a lot about a person so don't be an idiot and understand that all these platforms are your extended portfolio. They can make or break your creative successes.

How clients will surf all your 2010 juvenile posts
Sorry, couldn't find any 'tip' related GIFs for this post, hope Bee & Puppycat based imagery makes up for that. Stay excellent!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

IWD 2017

Today isn't the day for my gimmicks, my puns or my hair,

Today is the day, for women, ladies—all who are fair. 

pop culture reference; I think.
As we smash the ceiling,
Glass fills the floor,
Give a sister a chance,

Friday, 3 March 2017

Books—a fading ideal

This week we had World Book Day, which saw many children going to school dressed as movie characters; or so I assume, it's not that often I attend primary schools.

For a designer, books carry a currency that stands mountains above copper pennies and monarch embezzled paper slips—books, books and more books. If you are a good designer, you'll own all the books you can get your hands on and if you are a better designer, you'll be in those books.

The tactile nature and printing process go hand in hand with everything creatives dream about, leaving use with masses of bound paper that sit and look pretty on the shelf ,waiting for the next day that you have a creative block so they can find themselves sprawled over the floor, like a post-walkies labrador.

I had never really been a book owner until university, where then suddenly I was thrust upon with a list of books I should own, should have read and should buy in which to succeed on the course with—throwing me into the dark scary depths of correctly using a bookcase. Now, three years on, I have a real affinity with the printed page, lusting over my next book and stacking them anywhere that they'll both fit and not send the other half crazy.

Now, as I stand on my high horse I can snigger and jeer at the masses, for being so under-read, like 18th century lord looking out on his pasture, filled with illiterate peasants. But really, if I think back—I was exactly that. I didn't want to read, I own no books and I had no desire to—but why was that?
Because they weren't exciting enough for me.

Like every other boy, I had a games console, access to the internet and sack full of textbooks from school—once my 6 hours of pretending to understand biology, doodling in maths and giving 50% in PE was up, I wanted to go home, eat food and see something a little more exciting. I could always find something to entertain myself, almost instantly. Films, explosions and shooting polygons controlled by angry French men; all of which took very little focus of effort on my behalf, so like hell I was going to pick up Dickens and sit in silence for an hour or two.

Now, as I've grown older, the allure of video games has worn off and the potential for learning that is held within those design books, essays and journals shines a lot brighter; which I hope sticks around, as I'm a hopper. I hop from one thing to the next, spurring all my excitement into the next thing that I've found interest in. Perhaps books are just my current fad, but usually if it stick around for longer than a year, I can class it as more than one of my passing interests.

It's an ideal that we should all read, but it seems like only certain communities and industries have importance engrained into the sniffing of pages and the breaking of spines. Of the people I studied with, I could list a majority who valued reading highly but from my friendship circle of youth, I was almost amazed by the few who read—so much in fact, that my friend who had 20+ fantasy books upon his wardrobe was somewhat of an oddity to me – though quite fairly – he was always a lot smarter than I.

With purchasing these books I always find myself, doing as I was so wisely told not to do; judging a book by it cover and making my purchases almost exclusively based on it's aesthetic value. The theory is, if they've gone to the trouble of hiring a good designer, then the content of said book should mimic that—it works for the most part. But this privilege is mostly reserved for design books and the 'classics' of literature; I personally think my mother's bookshelf looks like a bloody awful mess of fifty colours and a thousand script typefaces, but she doesn't buy by the cover and likely reads me under the table, so what on earth do I know.

In a world where all information is instantly accessible and all entertainment is life-like, drenched in thrill and detail—it's certainly difficult to fight the corner for the humble book. For the younger generations – the children of the internet – the ideal of a silent study of printed paper is just that, an ideal. Let's just hope that we have a resurgence like the 'vinyl revival' even if it's realistically killing the market that's it's resuscitated. 

Perhaps the answer is better design, or a better public interest spurred by the design and suitability for the books. Or, perhaps we've just grown past them. They are no longer the largest resource for information; chipped down from their mighty pedestal of importance by Hyper Text Markup Languages. Books will always be prevalent for certain people and certain industries but that doesn't stop them fading as a whole, especially as we start to lose our elders—the safeguards of the printed word. Like art, as it loses it's respect, it loses it's footing; and now it stands on a blanket of ice reflecting the future generations that needn't own a bookshelf ever again.

Books; don't ever fade away, don't ever fade away.

Copyright © Vincent Walden Sucks