Social media feels so small these days. And not in a “small is beautiful” type of way. Rather, it’s very confining. Closed off from the outside world. It doesn't smell like fresh spring air or coffee brewing in the morning. It doesn’t sound like a lovely melody, doesn’t carry a back beat. And if you need a hug, it can’t offer one. Sure, it does certain things very well. But others, the stuff that makes life so rich, social media falls far short.
When presenting design work on a call with a client, speak clearly and intentionally. Don’t go too fast. And don’t assume all the lingo is universally understood. Also, while talking, hold the phone in your writing hand. This way, when you’re done, you switch hands and can take notes. If the call is long, your arm will start cramping and thus you need to mix it up. With a little luck, when you make the switch your writing hand is then ready for note taking.
My general disappointment with the social media platforms at my disposal can be whittled down to one word: power. Or lack thereof.
If the promise of social media is connection, I suppose that’s okay. But the real world is always better for connection than any screen can be. I have some close friends IRL and we barely have any digital interaction. Why? I suppose because the connection I feel on any number of social media platforms is so weak. The bonds created there are not strong. So as my disappointment has grown, the connection feature of the platforms matters to me less and less. Why I still stick around is power. And Influence.
The need to be heard, the need to share my work, my ideas, my rage. If what I share in search of power also brings connection, I’m okay with that. But if it’s just about connection, I don’t see any social media platform worthy enough to put time into in order to gain that benefit. I’d rather have a beer with you and shoot the shit. Outside of that, I’m sure you’re busy, I’m busy, blah blah blah.
These tools I use to push for a better, more progressive world. And they aren’t so great at doing that. But in the flux of the chaos of the day, I still see them as needed tools and I’ll continue using them as such. To simply connect to stay in touch or catch up, na. Let’s talk on the phone or at the bar or on a walk around the neighborhood. Or at the very least, a text or email direct is way better than a post put out into the ether. The types of things we’ll connect on I don’t want spied on or data-fied anyway. I’d prefer our conversation to be lost in the wind.
What I want these platforms to learn from me instead is the need for a united progressive agenda in order to make our country and our planet better for everyone. That’s what I use social media for.
If you’re a citizen, and you vote, there’s power in that. If you’re a worker, and you work, there’s power in that too. If you use social media, you’re connected, but so what, where’s the power? The cold blooded answer is that there isn’t any. At least not on the scale needed. If you were enticed to be involved with social media more for the amplifying of your voice, for expressing your ideas, for making your view of the world visible to more and more people, which I was, then you need to rethink your approach to social media. Because the power you get is so neglible that the time spent on it is probably not worth it.
Talking about the need for quality designers, the subject of skills often comes up. Sure, quality designers need to design and design very well. Aspiring to be experts when it comes to color and composition, typography and form. That’s a given. Logos, posters, websites, reports, campaigns, etc. But after that, there must be more. The profession of graphic designer should also come with extra flare for making projects happen. This can include any number of these items:
The projects that offer the most opportunity for something special need designers who can think and bring more to the table than simply a narrow view of pixels and ink.
Say you make this thing. It lands, big time. It establishes you. Because of it, you’re able to make your mark. And with it as a marker, you can work it to lead to more things. You’re somewhat known for it. Respected, sought after, appreciated. But after, then what? Is that all you’ve got? Maybe so. And that just might be the way of it. Or you can try to elevate to that best thing you’ve done and make that your standard. If doing the original thing is hard, that consistency is even harder. And it’s what separates the people who just put in time from the people who want more out of all of this. The former can be fine, the latter exhausting, and the decision between the two the most important you’ll ever make.
Is it high? Low? Somewhere in between? In the middle? I like that one. I prefer things in the middle; cities, careers, processes, books.
If you have low confidence, it’s really hard to be in the design profession. You have to make big decisions based on what you think will happen in the future and you have to convince others to go to that place you think you’re heading, together. You need some level of confidence for that.
However, high confidence, I have a problem with. In working relationships, if you’re confidence is always high I really don’t want to work with you. Period. Why? Because as everyone knows, when you’re creating something new not everything goes right. And I think that should be made known along the way in the process. Just glossing over things with over-confidence? I think that does a disservice to the work, to the client, and to the creatives involved. When confidence is high, that’s too close to a dishonest approach to problem-solving for me.
For my work and the teams I’m on, I want people who work hard and are reliable. But I also want honesty, not a constantly rosy sales pitch where everything is the best always and forever. That’s too close to conman for my liking.