The Freedom of Design

It is different from art, and while there are boundaries or restrictions or parameters needed to define/contain the design, there is still the fact that the best design happens when there is freedom to make it happen. Yes, I work poorly when micro managed and nitpicked to death in the name of feedback from a whole host of opinions. When that happens, I’m too cautious, I design for approval, and I really just want the project to be over.

But when I’m working in a client/designer relationship where they do what they do and I do what I do, the benefits of such a relationship reap a multitude of benefits, both trackable and untrackable. I generate more ideas, I use my time better, and I deliver what I would consider to be a higher quality of work. There is also the extra time spent day dreaming about the project, noodling over here and over there, and looking for opportunities to take things to unexpected levels. I’m not just looking to complete the project, I’m looking for the best outcome possible.

You might say I should do that all the time, regardless of the relationship. To which I would say, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that just ain’t how things shake out.

Exhausted Capitalism

Aren’t you tired of it all? I am. All the buying and selling, selling and buying. America has too much of it. This “marketing mindset” is just getting old. The constant message barrage in one media stream after another is that buying is the key to everything; happiness, success, love, fame. Sure, family is important, community is key, leisure is a must, but before you get to any of that, gotta buy-buy-buy. This ad says so, as does that one. It’s all fucking exhausting. Nothing is ever enough. You can never be satisfied. There is no turning back. Can we simply push pause on this whole enterprise and just see what happens?


When I used to say “we don’t have TV” it meant something. Because we didn’t. My mid-20s were absent many things. TV series, cable news, sports, commercials. None of it. What I did to make sense of the world was read. The internet, books, magazines, newspapers.

Having grown up in a “TV household,” going through my days without a television was liberating. We still don’t pay for cable but we have all the other stuff; Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon, etc. So we get our fix of the latest in this golden age of television. And we find a way to watch some sports, which I seem to be embracing in my late 30s. Thus, we get some commercials. But what is still absent? Cable news.

Outside of a doctor’s office, I rarely ever see cable news. And the occasional clip of nonsense I find on Twitter. Maybe you should try it, hey? No CNN or MSNBC? (Fox News is shit so I assume you don’t watch it.) If you watch cable news, just stop. No more. Read instead. Or watch PBS.

There, all better?

Budget Breaks

Are you a client who works in the traditional space of expected marketing/design/advertising back-and-forth hoop jumping? Or don’t you?

It’s a fair question. Because I think big budgets are necessary if that’s the game being played. And that can be determined at the outset.

If you don’t operate that way, and it’s more of a team of talents, doing what they do, then there’s a break in the budget for that. If that’s how you roll, hands-off and no-nonsense, then awesome. Because let’s be honest, if this is going to be a grinding project like many, many things in design, marketing, and adverting then the budget needs to reflect that. But if we're going more outside of that and we’re operating like people with a common focus, the budget adjusts accordingly.

That’s how we’re able to work with a lot of nonprofits. They let us do what we do, and we can be more affordable. That’s what we like to call a win-win.

So what’s my problem with capitalism? I have lots.

With capitalism, your hands are tied. With capitalism, you don’t see a full picture. With capitalism, there isn’t room for much else. Every person in the world is a potential consumer, buyer, or supporter of X, Y, or Z? That sounds terrible, even if it’s in reference to creativity, an industry that I love.

Capitalism leaves us collectively unable to fully address our health care crisis, climate change crisis, or education crisis. All areas in which the crisis being faced has been exacerbated by capitalism.

Capitalism leaves us personally lacking, stunted, or spinning in circles chasing money first and foremost. A mindset focused squarely on capital can only take you so far.

There’s a difference between making a good living in the creative industry and capitalism. I like to think I’m good at the former, not so much at the latter. And I am inherently suspicious of people who are really good at capitalism. Because for people who are really good at capitalism, they fall into a line of thinking that will always answer the question of how much is enough with this very simple word: more.

In a finite world, never being satisfied, always needing more, eventually leaves you with nothing. In body, mind, spirit, and even in your bank account.

Embrace capitalism? Oh hell no.

If we’re going to move forward as a society, to create more equitable economies, healthier environments, functioning governments, and inclusive spaces for creativity to flourish in, then we need less capitalism, not more.

The Importance of Content Population

The reason someone would design and develop a website is for the content he/she wants to share with the world wide web. Hence, the content is pretty important. The most important one might say. 

There has been lots written about content-first web design. It’s a neat concept and one that produces excellent end results. But it’s most of the time a luxury. When we do projects, sometimes we just don’t have it. We have enough to design and develop, but it’s hardly ever been a complete picture.

In our age of web design and development, much has been made about the need for designers to also know how to code. 

Should designers also code? is a question that doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t, and I’m over it. However, should designers also write? is a resounding yes and makes all the difference. Design and writing are more intertwined in my mind than design and coding.