Creative design by committee is OK – but who wants OK?
Something that really doesn’t work, at least from what I’ve seen, is design that is created “by committee”. People sit down and try and hammer out what something should look like and invariably will disagree because let’s face it we all have our own ideas about how to go about things. I used to use the phrase “everyone is a designer” to vent my frustration when different people would explain how they wanted changes made to a design that I was already happy with.
Design is really subjective so something that looks great to one person is bound to look awful to someone else. The problem as I see it is that design by committee ends up being nothing more than compromise – the word “OK” rules the day with compromise. After a design by committee meeting the resulting design would be given the OK. I used to create adverts and flyers in my job and I would start out with something I was really happy with and I would regularly try out different ideas and ways of doing things but by the time designs had gone through a series of people who had more of say than me a number of designs would end up losing impact, look flat or just plain ugly – others would end screeching towards a deadline and be declared OK. Creativity is easy – almost anyone can be creative – but good design is very hard and very very subjective. Some designers may produce great design works straight away, others may be on the slow burn and gradually improve over time but design is a skill – a skill that complements creativity.
When I started out with my online cartoon “Monk and his I.T. Junk” (www.monkandhisitjunk.com) I was new to cartooning and I looked around everywhere for design tips, advice and feedback. Many people I asked had great suggestions but I found that the more I tried to make everyone happy with the overall look and design the less I enjoyed creating the cartoon and the more constrained I felt in the design process. That said there were a number of fabulous suggestions that really helped and I still try and absorb all the feedback and input I get and I like to feel that my cartoon is improving over time – I must be a slow burner! Eventually though I had one of those epiphany moments where I decided to simply draw the cartoon how I liked it – in a way that suited me and these days I am happy with the design and I enjoy the design process.
If you enjoy design then my advice would be to stick to your guns and accept the fact that not everyone is going to like what you produce. Ask for advice and absorb advice and be constantly on the lookout for feedback (negative feedback is as important as positive feedback) but above all follow your instinct. As long as there are enough people that like what you do then you are heading in the right direction.
This post was a participatory post in Jacob Cass $5000+ PRIZE GIVEAWAY – Graphic Design Group Writing Project. If you are feeling creative then pop across to Jacobs log and join in.
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