"Even my mom!"
Read the front page of my newspaper magazine.
Last weeks whole issue was dedicated to how simple it was these days to be a designer. They even let 80% of the issue be designed by the mother of one of the designers of famed creative agency KesselsKramer. Who had never so much as designed a card before then. To drive the point home entirely they included a step-by-step guide to starting your own inspirational t-shirt agencies, entirely websites that automated every step for you. From the name, logo & fake inspirational quotes down to the actual products themselves, all just by clicking a few buttons. Design has never been so easy.
Agencies who make points the way they do always irk me. They view design, not as a means to solve problems, but view creativity as a goal in itself, as a means to change the way we look at things, to change purposes (such as creating vibrators from everyday objects, because why not?), to elicit emotions. They design to disrupt. To me, that's art, not design. But I can't deny they were successful. As I was leafing through the issue I found myself growing profoundly annoyed. I tried to view it objectively, to not take it so personally. To see what others might see, what a delightful look at how simple it can be to design nowadays. But I couldn't let go of how offensive this was to me. As if they were trying to make fun of us. “Look at those silly designers. Thinking they have skills. Let’s prove them wrong, shall we?” As if our industry was sorely lacking in ways to be undermined. As if we all truly need to be taken down a peg. Sure there are some out there who believe their own gospel a little too much, but most of us fight for our recognition, stay humble and keep improving to make sure they make good things. For you. For us. For everyone.
Yet there are few jobs I know of that have to face such constant scrutiny as design. You won’t often hear these type of arguments brought to another field. It seems totally normal to say: “What do you mean it costs X to design or even build a website? My cousin can do it for a hundred bucks.”
But you wouldn’t make such a statement to a dentist, a baker or an electrician, would you? I know the baker analogy has been pummelled to death by now but it still holds true. You can absolutely bake bread at home. It’s not even that hard! But do you want to? Will that bread be as good as the baker who truly knows what he’s doing? And do you want to spend the time you have available to you on making that bread, instead of on what you are good at or what you want to be doing?
Our entire society is built around the concept that we have split up and specialised our skills so that one person can create their thing for the entire community and the community gives back in its own way. We’ve built our economy around it but the basis is simple. You specialise in something so someone else doesn’t have too. So why are people so intent on ‘proving’ that they can design too?
Because the thing is, you absolutely can create things yourself.
We are all makers.
We all have creativity.
We are all unique.
But that doesn’t mean that someone who has studied and practised and tended to their skills in a particular field isn’t worth the money they ask for. Nor does it mean that they aren’t (sometimes) better suited to help you achieve your goal. Be that eating a yummy sandwich, or launching a successful app.