Saturday, 3 June 2017

Problem makers or problem solvers?

Commonly, it's believed that designers should be problem solvers; you come to them with an issue and via the medium of visual wizardry they'll help solve said issue. But shouldn't we also be problem makers?

It seems a little backwards to suggest that we should create problems rather than solemnly solve them, but we should be allowed to make a fork in the road. We should decline leaflets where business cards will work better and we should suggest forest greens and sky blues when only black was specified.

At the core of it, design is problem-solving but that doesn't mean that the solution to the problem is always the solution that has been specified by the client. Clearly, it's important to listen to your client and hear what they are asking for, but I am suggesting that people who don't operate within the creative space, don't understand printing and its processes might from time to time ask for things that aren't suited for what they actually need.

I suggest we campaign to be problem makers—create alternative solutions and find different approaches. I realise it's a farfetched ideal to suggest that we should throw off the ropes and create what we want, but I think within any designers contacts list, they have the clients that they know will trust their opinion and allow boundaries to be pushed; like a sort of empathetic paddling pool.

To make problems, feels counter-intuitive, as clearly the client has asked for a solution and approaching them with more problems is the opposite of why they came to you—but I'm certain if we never made a problem for clients, for project and for the work we are gazing upon then perhaps we'd never reach the understanding of design we both personally have and globally realise.
We know you can't read text under 5 point because someone has asked for paragraphs of minuscule body copy only to realise it's like trying to distinguish between the moth and the lightbulb when trying to remove the winged beast from casting 3-piece-seat sized shadows all evening.

It's not a sustainable model to be always creating problems, as I doubt client after client will line up asking for logos, hoping that instead, you might produce a website or a set of leaflets—but for the correct client, with the correct job; it's a risk worth at least letting swim around your mind.

The American customer service solution of "The customer is alway right" doesn't service the industry of design like it does that of retail—it creates an artificial pedestal, raising clients to heights equal to that of Nelson's Column. Realising that they are bringing you the work and the money, they'll sit nicely in their chair of expectation, waiting for your email to see whether you've facilitated their every idea. 

If you've studied at university you'll likely have studied Graphic Design and not Graphic Facilitation—so create problems where problems are needed, as nobody ever strived forward by being supplied everything they needed when they asked for it. It's the struggle to develop something that makes an entity stronger by failure and success. 

You don't have to be a pain in the arse and constantly challenge what has been asked of you, but just like navigating with a car's GPS; if you feel that the solution being presented to you isn't the most correct one, you'll take that left turn to the anger of the automated voice. Perhaps once in a while, you end up staring at a brick wall in a builders merchants forecourt but you're also taking the risk that you'll understand the lay of the land better than the exterior entity directing you right, taking a much more scenic left—the more correct option for you at that time.

I hope you can figure out my strange GPS analogy, but if not; just make problems my child. 


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