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you want fries with that?

designers insist that design is at the helm of consumer culture. while that’s kinda true on surface levels, i don’t see a whole heckuva lot of products in the mainstream marketplace instigated by designers except high-profile collections at target and maybe the design within reach catalogue. everything’s thought up by someone else and then sugar-coated with design.

so if design is everywhere and we’re at the helm of all things interesting and usable, why in the world do many designers remain in a reactionary service industry rather than proactively creating a consumer marketplace for themselves?

you tell me.

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ARCHIVE ID 1837 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Feb.21.2004 BY Patric King
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
ps’s comment is:

i'll have to comment on this one more in depth later, but just because no high profile names are attached, or are promoted in connection with products in the market-place, does not mean design is not involved before the sugar-coating starts. target and dwr are obviously a couple of well published examples that use design. but they are not the only ones. however, they do know how to work the pr machines. my initial reaction to this post is "bull-shit"... but chances are you won't take that for an answer.

On Feb.21.2004 at 07:50 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Read The Education of a Design Entrepreneur

On Feb.21.2004 at 08:43 PM
Michael’s comment is:

I think this is good question Patric, but don't be surprised if the topic dies quickly.

Writers on this site are refreshingly smart and honest about most things, but I don't see all that much here about what our work really amounts to. Despite the high-minded ideals about value-added strategic positioning that we hear over and over like some AIGA mantra, I find the job to be primarily about putting a good face on things. We are window dressers.

This is not a particularly bad thing -- on the contrary, it is extremely difficult to be really good at it. I just wish we could be more honest about it. At least between ourselves. My view is prejudicial. I know that's not really fair to everyone, but the snob factor in this profession has made me cynical.

FWIW, I work with many clients who value my opinion on things other than style. They seek my input on product development, marketing strategy, even pricing. This is rewarding, certainly, but it's not what I'm paid for. And I know my seat at the table is based on the assumption that whatever we come up with, I'll make it look good.

Good design interprets and communicates and at times can have great impact. This is not a simple thing to be tossed off lightly and anyone who does this all day long must be a great thinker who judges many prestigious awards shows. But lets be honest -- much (most?) of what we do deals with surface which is by definition a shallow pool. I think this is what Patric is alluding to.

I guess I don't really have an answer to the question unless it is this: the reason designers don't come up with something more tangible is either we just don't get credit for it or (more likely) we're really not up to it.

On Feb.21.2004 at 10:11 PM
eric’s comment is:

michael:

As an ex-window dresser, "writer on this site" and ardently anti-Aiga, I take issue with your base accusation. I've never once bandied about "value-added strategic positioning".

However, more to the original question: I can't help wonder if you would blame a doctor for not being famous without the right disease? If design serves the object that it designs then how is it that you can blame the designer for being one what follows the product. By that I mean more plainly that if you were really great at designing chicken wings you'd refer to yourself not as designer but as a restauranteur.

On Feb.21.2004 at 11:22 PM
pk’s comment is:

If design serves the object that it designs then how is it that you can blame the designer for being one what follows the product.

that's at the heart of the question: i'm wondering why design follows the object rather than creating it. is it a question of money, connections, or simply that not many have considered it since we are basically born from signpainters and typsetters back in Ye Olde Dayes, and are therefore retained for service because we can make an existing (whatever) into a better existing (whatvever). if we can make anything better, then why aren't we more proactive about it?

On Feb.21.2004 at 11:47 PM
Phillip’s comment is:

It's a tough question. We recently had a very established European designer do a workshop at our school (I'll leave him nameless for his own protection). A student posed the question, "What do you do when a client triest to dictate a project's outcome?" His answer surprised me as much as the question surprised him. He simply said, "We don't have that problem in Europe. Clients seem to have more of an understanding and respect for what we do." This speaks directly to this question. I think that design is not as prevelent in American culture (and if this question wasn't specific to it, unfortunately my answer is) because the majority of people don't understand the value or scope of what we do. That includes those who could truly put us at the helm of consumer culture. So, in my opinion, we aren't quite there. Instead, we're sitting third row Business Class waiting for an invitation to visit the cockpit.

On Feb.22.2004 at 01:56 AM
krs’s comment is:

Instead, we're sitting third row Business Class waiting for an invitation to visit the cockpit.

Ha! I am actually waiting for a local Arts Trust to invite me to "do their branding" for free, "cos we are on a tight budget". I'd love to be in the cockpit. But designers aren't really allowed in the pilot's seat, not in NZ anyways.

Good question Patric.

On Feb.22.2004 at 03:24 AM
graham’s comment is:

'graphic' designers on the whole tend towards reaction; a brief arrives, they do it, bish bosh job done, next please.

designers (architect, interior, fashion, product etc. etc.) work on design. they make seasonal lines, product ranges, single objects etc., in order to generate interest in their work from manufacturers, developers, as well as finding ways and means to put out their own lines in a more limited way. ittalla, knoll, herman miller, marimekko, vitra, sony, wedgewood etc. etc. etc.; you make your work, present to them, they like it, you go into production-if not, you start again. if you go into production, then the manufacturer in essence becomes your client, and if things go well then briefs, comissions will come. that is the job.

'graphic' designers very rarely do this; i would add as an observation that it is rarer in the u.s. for a 'graphic' designer to make design work, to think in this way as the foundation for design work, than elsewhere. what design work could 'graphic' designers be doing ? well -t shirts, books, prints, film, live events, web sites/events, photography, games, toys-making this work and (very important) getting it seen, distributed, published; and this as the basis for client work, not some therapeutic antidote for creative frustration.

it's not a question of being 'allowed' anything, or waiting for the phone to ring-nor is it to do with expecting respect, hand wringing over art vs. design or being bothered about how anyone else works or how anyone else thinks others should work-and, before somebody gets on the 'expressionist personal' hoo ha again, just think; if a product designer comes up with, say, a beautiful new container (vase/jug/cup) of some kind, a form which is magical, expressive, simple-what do they have to do to see it on a shelf? selling, sourcing, manufacturing, distributing, selling in to shops, dealing with returns, dealing with the repayment of the loans you took in order to make the one piece-but all of this as a matter of course because this is the job.

On Feb.22.2004 at 06:16 AM
graham’s comment is:

"it is rarer in the u.s. for a 'graphic' designer to make design work, to think in this way as the foundation for design work, than elsewhere."

had a think; perhaps not so true-alife, staple, stussy, ed fella, futura, sagmeister (to an extent), valicenti, vanderlans, stash, mcguiness-i'm sure there's more-some names very rarely considered and more often rejected for spurious reasons such as their client work is only for entertainment/sport or 'what they do is easy' as if anyone really knows, or they were only known/famous in april 1746 or something as if that really matters in the first place.

On Feb.22.2004 at 06:37 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

i don’t see a whole heckuva lot of products in the mainstream marketplace instigated by designers except high-profile collections at target and maybe the design within reach catalogue

The high-profile collections at Target were not "instigated by designers." Target went goes to designers who already have reputations and commissions them. It's a marketing decision to leverage an existing designer's image to enhance the Target image and, hopefully, sell some product. (And if it doesn't sell, they just cut bait.)

Likewise, most if not all of the work in Design Within reach was originally commissioned by manufacturers like Knoll and Herman Miller. (The Kit Hinrichs calendar is a rare and inexpensive exception.)

The few times I've witnessed designers attempt to initiate and sell products, I've been struck by how unbelievably difficult it is. This is true for "high profile designers" as well as lesser-known entrepreneurs. Being a brilliant designer is only part (and maybe a small part) of what it takes to succeed.

The rest involves a lot of unglamorous stuff like pitching yourself to buyers, dealing with manufacturers, figuring out how to inventory whatever it is you make, and so forth. All this for a very slim chance of seeing your idea come to market and an even slimmer chance of making any money off it.

The line of people and professions waiting to take what they think is their rightful place at the "helm of consumer culture" is long and it moves real slow. Don't hold your breath.

On Feb.22.2004 at 07:57 AM
Jeff G’s comment is:

This topic has a practical relevence for me. I work alone, and I am very aware of the fact that there is a limit to how much money I can make by being a reactionary service industrialist. If I am being paid for my designs that limit is not too high. If I am being paid for my ideas that limit is higher. But if I stop doing designs or having ideas for some reason, I stop earning money. The problem is my family still need food and clothing.

I want an income that doesn't stop when I do. As far as I can see that means "proactively creating a consumer marketplace" for myself. The question is, am I up for it?

Which brings up another question: What percentage of graphic designers are entrepreneurial? If it is anything like the general population (and I suspect it is), then it is really no surprise that we aren't out there in large numbers being proactive. I think most of us enjoy doing what Michael described. Most people in the world are followers and need to be told what to do. Nothing wrong with that. Society would fall apart otherwise.

On Feb.22.2004 at 10:54 AM
marian’s comment is:

selling, sourcing, manufacturing, distributing, selling in to shops, dealing with returns, dealing with the repayment of the loans you took in order to make the one piece

snd

pitching yourself to buyers, dealing with manufacturers, figuring out how to inventory whatever it is you make, and so forth.

Exactly. These are the things that have kept me for creating my own products. God knows, it's not for lack of ideas or even desire. If I had the capital ... to hire the people to help with all of the above, to pay for manufacturing, and to rent space to store and sell products, I could have a fabulous line of products to improve lives and make people eternally happy.

Heirs to large fortunes may email me forthwith.

On Feb.22.2004 at 01:32 PM
DaveL’s comment is:

The biggest reason for graphic designers not being at the helm of consumer culture is the fact that most of our jobs are about solving communication problems. We are sought after to help sell, inform, and distribute products and ideas...Not create them.

Nobody wants to buy a strategic design solution and use it as a paper weight.

On Feb.22.2004 at 01:51 PM
ps’s comment is:

the post talks about designers not creating products or markets for themselves. last time i checked most products where created by designers, most fashion as well. same with furniture. i also believe that for many everyday purchases you are purchasing the design more than the actual product. look at beverages, or cosmetics for example. what you are buying is not the actual content, but the brand, which has been cafefully designed. so i don't see how everything’s thought up by someone else and then sugar-coated with design. i might argue for the opposite...

why don't designers proactively create a consumer marketplace for themselves? well, they do: every designer that freelances or runs a designstudio sells a product or service. but if you look for them to launch other products, and are not finding them, its maybe because the market they are working in provides enough for them as is. because they team up with others to do it. because there is no desire to deal with the headaches.

i do believe in the power of design, but also in the power of business and the close relationship between the two. and just because one knows how to design, doesn't mean one has the desire to run an operation, deal with finances, trade agreements etc. i believe there are plenty of examples of designers shaping the consumer marketplace.

On Feb.22.2004 at 02:26 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

It seems to me that the reason designers don't instigate things is that, quite simply, "instigating" is its own game, equally involved and complicated. Design I think is one part of a much larger equation--as to what "Michael B." was saying, its insanely difficult. The simple act of designing something is challenging and time-consuming enough, the business of moving it from the shelf to the shopping cart is something else entirely. It usually takes more than one type of person and one type of discipline to get that done. Jonathan Ive at Apple would like a lousy sales VP, but he's a fabulous design VP.

Indeed, to an extent we are mere "window dressers," but even if we never amount to anything more, just remember what Roger Daltry says--"Its the singer not the song that makes the music move along." It's just a matter of how you feel about that. And I feel pretty good!

On Feb.22.2004 at 02:39 PM
surts’s comment is:

I suppose it depends on the parameters of what a designer is classified as. I've had many a friend tell me that they have street smarts and use it to their advantage. Some express their ideas through words on papyrus, others through cut & paste of html while others transfer their talents to people's cherished moments. What's the measurable scale you're looking for to make it successful pk?

On Feb.22.2004 at 06:13 PM
pk’s comment is:

i dunno; i'm trying to figure that out.

the only thing i'm sure of is that i think graphic design is fundamentally flawed in implementation (i.e. artists striving for a degree of self expression in an industry built upon service based upon request) that i want to fnd ways to remove the client-designer relationship.

on another level, i'd like to find other channels for income that i won't necessarily need to babysit day in and day out. service gets tiresome. i see too many designers working insane work weeks, damaging their relationships and social lives in the process, and for some reason staying in the industry. it simply doesn't add up to me.

i've been poking around in other design micro-economies: nightclub culture, japanese action figure design, streetwear, cosmetics, blah blah blah. haven't found anything terribly compelling yet.

On Feb.22.2004 at 07:07 PM
surts’s comment is:

TOKION—NOV/DEC 2003

WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE?

MG: I am hopping to die at my desk.

YOU MUST LOVE TO WORK...

MG: What else is there? I have no fantasies of moving somewhere on a golf course, if that is what you mean.

YOU DON'T WANT TO RETIRE?

MG: To what? It's a complete fraud, this idea of retirement. Retirement is really a great thing for people who have been working at something that they didn't want to do all their life. You know, a horrible job that you are not interested in. It was T.S. Elliot who said, 'The best way to die for an artist is at the easel.' I take that idea very seriously. If you are going to go, the best way to go is in the middle of your work.

~~~

Product vs. Service vs. Life.

I don't have much of a life outside of my interests hence I like talking with people to understand what makes them tick. It's funny to note how many lectures I've heard id people talk about turning products into services and gd's talking about turning services into a product. Inevitably industrial designers bring up the model of the washing machine where graphic designers mention residual income. Since I'm not in the position to retire yet, nor would I want to, what can I add to the conversation? You know what your good at, think less tactically and more strategically...

On Feb.22.2004 at 07:55 PM
pk’s comment is:

dying at the easel is incredibly romantic. good luck with that. also, note that i said i wanted to change the business model so that i wasn't at someone else-s beck and call - not stop designing. pay attention.

On Feb.23.2004 at 12:13 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

i see too many designers working insane work weeks, damaging their relationships and social lives in the process, and for some reason staying in the industry. it simply doesn't add up to me.

This has never and will never make sense--at least not to me. Having done the workaholic thing for about a year, I too frequently look at that year and wonder "what the hell happened to those 365 days?"

What it comes down to PK, is, what do you really really love? Use design as a catalyst for expressing that passion--sorry, this is sounding like high school guidance counselar jibber-jabber--and I'm sure the income will follow. Realistically, I have no choice to imagine that it wouldn't because otherwise what's the point? Maybe its as simple as writing a list of your favorite things, and then putting a twist on them that allows you to create something new.

An example, perhaps a bad one: a couple years ago I designed this book, really artsy stuff, based on the Book of Genesis. It was a lot of fun and I was quite pleased with the end result; I showed it around to some people, and it got some good responses which made me keep thinking about it. So now I'm in the process of doing that same treatment for every book in the Bible (or maybe just the really exciting ones). Now, I personally am not remotely religious, but I do appreciate the stories in that book and I love interpreting them in my own tortured-artist type of way. 's fun. So after showing the book around even more, I've found a small number of people interested in commissioning pieces from me based on what they've seen. Some people want larger scale prints, others are interested in more sculptural executions. Then there's the whole fantasy/dream of publishing it. I guess I'll see where it leads. Could I make a living off of it? Probably not, at least not yet, but its worth exploring.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense or is of any value. But for you? A PK line of cosmetics...cosmetics for men, maybe, that could be kinda cool. You know what they say though, you've always gotta serve someone, that's probably unavoidable. Not the worst thing.

On Feb.23.2004 at 12:19 AM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

...i think graphic design is fundamentally flawed in implementation ... that i want to fnd ways to remove the client-designer relationship.

Friend, then be an artist. There certainly are enough of them here in Chelsea who use Photoshop, copy album and book cover graphics, design their own interiors, etc. Andrea Zittel currently has an exhibition of dress forms wearing dresses; nothing fancy, just drab, simple, utilitarian dresses.

on another level, i'd like to find other channels for income that i won't necessarily need to babysit day in and day out.

Royalties -- the gift that keeps on giving. Both royalty and co-ownership agreements are investments in the relationship between you and your clients. If the product is successful, the rewards can last for decades; and such arrangements help alleviate the sticker shock of a huge initial design estimate for a startup. David C. Baker would probably cringe at this suggestion; and yes, you are taking a huge risk ... but what if?

We still get checks for projects designed in the mid-90s, Michael Vanderbyl has royalty agreements with furniture makers and I've heard unsubstantiated rumors that Uncle Milton owns a piece of Grand Union supermarkets.

Now, back to why do many designers remain in a reactionary service industry rather than proactively create a marketplace for themselves. I have two conclusions: because they are too unconscious to know any better, because they love what they do.

To the former, all one can say is 'wake up'.

I propose the later do affect the political and social world around them. Design's financial, cultural and communicative results have already discussed at length. Still, the dreamer in me finds solace in the idea of a standard-bearing cadre; committed to Platonic Forms of Beauty, Clarity and Elegance; all necessary in a world of ugliness, confusion and horror.

On Feb.23.2004 at 12:48 AM
graham’s comment is:

marian-'Exactly. These are the things that have kept me for creating my own products.'

why? they didn't keep any of the people who made the things around us from creating products, so why should it stop you?

davel-'the fact that most of our jobs are about solving communication problems. We are sought after to help sell, inform, and distribute products and ideas...Not create them.'

did you read any of the responses before yours? this is not about sitting around churning out the jobs, but using your abilities to initiate and generate work. how about a situation where you make something you love passionately and can see a practical application for, you call a company (a client) to present your idea, they take it on and who knows what then . . . this happens all the time.

ps-'i do believe in the power of design, but also in the power of business and the close relationship between the two.'

exactly; especially here. designers and entrepreneurs, business people, working together to achieve a common goal. actually collaborating rather than what seems to be perceived here as the typical 'client/designer' relationship.

bradley-'It seems to me that the reason designers don't instigate things is that, quite simply, "instigating" is its own game, equally involved and complicated.'

yes, that's why you find someone to instigate for or with you. then you work together. not clever, not complicated. lots of people do it.

pk-'on another level, i'd like to find other channels for income that i won't necessarily need to babysit day in and day out.'

as someone else said-royalties. earning money while you sleep. product design (or hollywood or the music industry) is possibly the best option.

pk-'i see too many designers working insane work weeks, damaging their relationships and social lives in the process, and for some reason staying in the industry. it simply doesn't add up to me.'

never changes-especially if you want things to get all proactive.

pk-'change the business model'

this is interesting; more detail? from what to what, for example?

bradley-'Then there's the whole fantasy/dream of publishing it. I guess I'll see where it leads. Could I make a living off of it? Probably not, at least not yet, but its worth exploring.'

no fantasy, no dream. if that were the case there'd be no books because they'd all be fantasies or dreams. it's a very practical and well trodden path. could you make a living off of it? does it matter? are you giving up your design work? one thing doesn't cancel out the other-the human being is perfectly capable of doing two or more things simultaneously. it's definitely worth exploring.

m kingsley-'Friend, then be an artist.'

come on-your writing is deeper than that; inspiring, usually-never seen you need to devolve to such a pat reaction; it's also not what's being discussed here. one can make graphic design without a client/designer relationship. i don't believe you don't know that.

royalties-yes.

m kingsley-'the dreamer in me finds solace in the idea of a standard-bearing cadre; committed to Platonic Forms of Beauty, Clarity and Elegance; all necessary in a world of ugliness, confusion and horror.'

or the other way round; but committment, yes, absolutely-and in the end isn't that what we're talking about?

i'm surprised by (maybe i'm misreading) the semi-negative/apathetic/confused tome in some of the responses here-surely the idea of creating work that is both 'committed to Platonic Forms of Beauty, Clarity and Elegance' and that simultaneously rakes in the royalties is nothing but an interesting proposition-an obvious one-a basic one-one at the very foundation of what we do? i used to assume that this is the way all graphic designers work. there seems to be so much . . .naivety in comparison to, say, the freshest most just out of college product designer. why is it a leap to imagine a collaboration with an entrepreneur, a business manager?

which leads back to - pk-'change the business model'.

what would you mean?

On Feb.23.2004 at 01:46 AM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

graham - My suggestion of fine art as a refuge from the bonds of client-designer servitude was not intended as a pat response. We are first form makers, and if one needs an atmosphere of permission beyond the restraints of approvals and pragmatism; then Art is one of many reactions. Besides, sometimes you just need a vacation.

On Feb.23.2004 at 02:52 AM
graham’s comment is:

mkingsley-i know what you're saying; just that this-'There certainly are enough of them here in Chelsea who use Photoshop, copy album and book cover graphics'-didn't seem to me to speak of the potential of art per se.

art, though, doesn't require permission or exist as a 'refuge from the bonds of client-designer servitude', or even 'beyond the restraints of approvals and pragmatism'. that sounds more like therapy, or-as you say-a vacation.

lets say you fancy making a bit of art; a shark in a clear container, for example. sounds groovy-probably been thought of before. not really been done, though, in the context of a gallery. ok. where do we find our shark? how much? how do we keep it fresh: how is it's delivery scheduled so that it won't decay before being placed in the container? what is the best preservative and how can we find it? will it need filtration? will it need replenishing? if so, how can we do this without interupting the day to day of the gallery? is there, in fact, a gallery who will show it? when? how does that coordinate with the building of the tank? are we building on-site or off? if on-site, how much time do we have on-site for the build? who can make the most perfect seamless tank that will hold the volume of liquid and shark we're hoping to show? what happens if it leaks? how will it be lit? will the lighting affect the preservative?

you get the drift.

'beyond the restraints of approvals and pragmatism'. really?

On Feb.23.2004 at 05:49 AM
Greg’s comment is:

I think design is a bridge. It bridges two worlds; one of Business and one of Art. We're constantly criticized from one end or the other, about not being on whatever side we're being criticized from. "Why can't designers be more about the bottom line?"..."Why can't designers forget the bottom line and be more expressive?"...and we sit on the bridge and keep the two sides talking to each other.

Not to say that there isn't business within art, or art within business, but these pale in comparison with the bigger worlds of Art and Business.

So what this question is asking is "why can't artists be more proactive?" Because we're comprimisers. We live on the bridge. It's just a question of which side you're closer to.

On Feb.23.2004 at 10:33 AM
eric’s comment is:

Graham- did you take your bully pill this morning?

It’s unclear to me where you’re going with your Damien Hirst example. The implication from your statement is that it doesn’t “require the permission or exist a �refuge from…servitude.’” Hirst is not emblematic of the contemporary art scene. That piece is 12 years old and his entire mature career was, until recently, bankrolled by Saachi.

Stuckist founder Charles Thomson, “It raises an interesting point, ”It's basically to expose the lie, the falsity of claiming something ordinary is extraordinary when it's not and always remains ordinary — if you take a shark to be ordinary in the first place.”

“If Hirst's shark is recognized as great art, then how come Eddie's, which was on display two years beforehand, isn't? Do we perhaps have here an undiscovered artist of genius, who got there first, or is it that a dead shark isn't art at all?”

On Feb.23.2004 at 11:25 AM
pk’s comment is:

answers and clarifications, i hope.

to reply, a few asked for clarification re: my comment regarding hideous work hours. i personally have no problem with 50 to 60 hours of billiable time per week, keeping in mind that i prefer to use 7 days a week as my framework rather than 5. but after having one long relationship fall apart because we were both designers working crazy hours, i feel like it's time to start re-analyzing priorities. my relationship with su is the most rpecious aspect to my life, and it kills me sometimes that i can't be around more so that we can do, you know, whatever.

as for changing the business model (i think graham asked this), i'm finding myself in more of a consultational position rather than being a graphic designer. we're involved with one client to help her suss out her actual operations and how her marketing is involved with that. another new client has retained us to help her figure out her law firm's marketing position. this require aboslutely no visual design, but rather it's a matter of su and i applying our taste, which she trusts. and yet another client has asked us to help her add a final flair to a line of formal gowns she's designing. she needs names, attitudes, and a bit of a "stage" on which to present her work.

all of this points to the fact that we're no longer graphic designers, we're more like lifestyle and marketing consultants, and that is very interesting to me. it says to me that the clientele is more interested in our worldview as the deliverable, not the designed object.

more later. i have a client misbehaving this morning.

On Feb.23.2004 at 12:01 PM
graham’s comment is:

eric-did you take your literal pill this morning?:)

the shark example was to do with the idea of art existing 'beyond the restraints of approvals and pragmatism'. there's probably better examples. it has nothing to do with hirst; only to do with outlining the practical undertaking of going ahead and making something that starts as a thought and becomes, for example, an installation. there is effort in art, as well as a pragmatic approach to the tacit approval process that surrounds it; something the stuckists understand and interfere (in a good way) with very well.

the business model thing/thinking; that's interesting. the shift has been happening for a long time now, but becomes more obvious with each passing year, and it has to do with exactly what pk talks about. clients have always wanted designers to add, to decide, to make, to unveil or perhaps disguise-but designers (graphic designers) usually only respond in a few expected ways. an annual report can be many things. there can also be many things a graphic designer can generate and publish, distibute themselves or with the collaboration of others-but how is this all supported?

kids shouting-hopefully clarity later.

On Feb.23.2004 at 12:34 PM
eric’s comment is:

graham- "there's probably better examples."

just pointing out a response about market autonomy that was about to... how was it put.? oh yes, ..'devolve to such a pat reaction'. ;)

On Feb.23.2004 at 01:33 PM
graham’s comment is:

eric-mate, you've really lost me.

i wasn't talking about market autonomy (quite the opposite) with the shark example. where'd you get that from?

On Feb.23.2004 at 02:08 PM
eric’s comment is:

re financial vs. approval in art making: “the shark example was to do with the idea of art existing 'beyond the restraints of approvals and pragmatism'.”

As I read your example (nee Hirst,) the artist was bought and paid for by Saachi so the How of what he did was a very tertiary concern. Isn’t the pragmatic concern for making, shipping and particularly storing this work: financial? By virtue of that, also a stumbling block for the designers with ideas but not pockets — no autonomy. As it applies to this discussion of creating something and finding a market, there isn’t a strong history of patrons for young designers, particularly graphic designers.

I agree with you and PK that the question of Designers as lifestyle consultant is perhaps a more interesting question to follow.

On Feb.23.2004 at 02:41 PM
graham’s comment is:

i don't know. the thing is, i really liked the idea of thinking of another model-remodeling all of it. what would that be? surely as many different things as there are people, here, elsewhere. not taking for granted, not making assumptions but through work thinking, feeling-but it seems that these things do not get done. i mean in the simplest of ways-little things, to do with the passing moment laid bare, revealed, examined with love the mystery of why these things are, why everywhere they become forgotten or lost-maybe healed over, but usually discarded, replaced with another thing, another new thing. if we continually use our intellect to fix ourselves to one thing. to fix ourselves as one thing, then we deny the possibility of the many, of change, of reversal, even of stillness. undercutting the recognition of the art (heart) in what we do through our own experiences, through what we are told, even through what we believe is a grievous harm because little by little the colour and difference leeches from the world through the little decisions to acquiesce or to become harder or to forget the first ever thing that brought you into this in the first place. rememberance-becomes elegy; something is lost never to be replaced, becoming more tired, less likely to . . . someone laughed at me the other day because i wanted to get some business people to spend a morning drawing to music. that's my problem-i don't mind being laughed at although it makes me sad-and as a first response its more than understandable-but to go no further than that suggests how quickly and easily we forget we were once children and will return to a similar state one day again, enfeebled and dependent, wondering at this day and the next and stuck in pain or fear but hopefully joy, even if emptied of all recognition of your daughter or your lover; but, here we are, balanced in between these states, in a station, an airport, waiting, trying to chew on our own teeth, lost with language unwilling to recognise and acknowledge the other drifting by on their way to elsewhere, shadows as the sun passes behind the clouds without an inkling of return, the future, how it could be.

On Feb.23.2004 at 02:54 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Graham, the fact that you're not afraid to be laughed at, not afraid to take chances and do something unexpected or "whacky" is why you're such a great designer. It's a bravery made from honesty and passion. (There's some really beautiful words and sentiment in that last post, BTW.)

And to the point of this discussion, isn't it exactly this kind of bravery that would cause a graphic designer to expand his creative horizons. It goes beyond generating a revenue streams or royalties. You do something new (furniture, t-shirt, painting, sculpture, housewares, textiles, fashion, etc.) because you just need to see it done. If the money follows great; but if it is slow in coming maybe that's okay too. Bradley demonstrates that attitude with his book project. And in fact, I've known lots of creative people who struggle and make all sorts of life compromises just to make their "product," with the hope that eventually enough recognition will come their way to be able to really "make it."

Also, people have mentioned artists as not having a client/designer relationship. I don't agree with that. Even the high-and-mighty Artiste must perform requisite amounts of ass-kissing for his critics and patrons. I mean, hey, what's an art openning if not one big shmooze-fest. Maybe it's not client/designer; but it's still customer/creative, in some way, shape, or form.

On Feb.23.2004 at 09:00 PM
a gentry’s comment is:

I think that we are skating on the surface of what Gropius explored fully in 1938. From the Bauhaus manifesto of that year:

"because we live in the 20th century, the student architect or designer should be offered no refuge in the past but should be equipped for the modern world in its various aspects, artistic, technical, social, economic, spiritual, so that he may function in society not as a decorator but as a vital participant.

"

I'd like to see the Bauhaus philosophy applied to the challenges of today.

On Feb.23.2004 at 10:28 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

To Patric's initial post. I'd like to have a salad. I hate French fries and the idea of designers being a drive through service vexes me.

why in the world do many designers remain in a reactionary service industry rather than proactively creating a consumer marketplace for themselves?

What does reactionary service mean? To me, it means somebody comes to you with a problem or message, and you as the designer are expected to solve the problem or project the message. You react to their needs and the givens surrounding them. Okay. Designers do that. Now create a consumer marketplace? That's a challenge. How about we rephrase this to looking at the marketplace, defining a need/want and crafting a product that sells in that market. Make a product for a consumer in a particular market. Sure, this can be done and has been done by many designers. Lookup Chip Kidd, Natalia Ilyin, Shepard Fairey, John Maeda, Seymor Chwast, Rudy Vanderlans, or Tibor Kalman. I really want to direct you again to Steven Heller's book where he interviews some of these people. The Education of a Design Entrepreneur (along with his program at Parson's) calls for a new designer. One who will create, innovate, market, research, and visualize a product. It's more authorpreneur than just author.

Designers can be commodities.

Designers can create commodities for clients.

Designers can create their own commodities and profit.

Mr. Bierut is on target, it takes a long time to carve a niche and climb the consumer mountain. But why let time stop you? Time can be a valuable asset. In fact you may strike when the time is right. If you never strike at all, you'll regret it. In the end, it's a lot of work. Running your own studio is one thing, but running your own studio and managing all of the assets that go into the product is another beast entirely. If running your own studio is a supersized meal at 50-60 hours per week, than running your own product from start to finish is a never ending buffet nearing 70+ hours per week. I'd still like a salad, thanks.

graham, I know tomato has done a couple of books. Self-publishing constitutes an author / entrepreneur endeavor. How did that process go from start to finish? Lots of time? Lots of frustration? Did you have creative control from start to finish? Did you profit financially or take a loss?

On Feb.23.2004 at 11:30 PM
Jason’s comment is:

then.. than... I hate grammatical screw ups. can we get MT to have a spell/gramer check?

On Feb.24.2004 at 12:03 AM