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  • Shivam Sharma

I just want to make cool shit!

A lot of Graphic Designers all around the world are ready to change the world with their design. Talking about design “strategy” rather than aesthetics has become the new trend and everywhere you look, you’ll find graphic designers talking about the building brands. Designers have now branded themselves as strategists and have started using terms like Lighthouse interviews, Process development, Discovery meetings and so on. This gives graphic design a more serious sounding resume and in turn, makes it easier to sell to corporates and big brands than saying “I make cool shit that other people might find cool as well and end up buying your product” Although this is definitely a great way to sell design, I personally found myself getting lost in trying to figure out how to execute a great and sound strategy for a brand rather than focussing on the actual design execution process itself. In other words, with more complexities coming into the design process (which actually result in getting better results, don’t get me wrong), we often tend to forget the reason almost all the designers got into graphic design for - to make cool stuff. No child ever dreams of creating strategies for brands that will change their perception in the market, but a child, sitting in the backseat of a car looking out the window will look at a Nike advertisement on a truck and think “That’s cool, maybe I’ll make this when I grow up”. As Aaron Draplin, the rockstar designer as some might call him (not far from the truth to be honest) mentioned in his book “Pretty Much Everything”, he worked on two projects in the same year, the “Nike Air Max 360” and branding of a hot dog truck for a close friend. Nike came up with some new cool sneakers within a couple of months and everyone forgot about the AirMax 360s while his friend’s mother to this day is thankful for helping them lift the business off the ground. I’m not saying don’t aim for the Nike projects as a designer, what I’m trying to say is do not forget the smaller, more fun projects as these would probably have a greater and more tangible impact than the big corporate branding you always dreamt of. This brings us to the question, how do we actually measure impact? It’s definitely easier to comprehend the impact of your design on a family run cafe than going through the leads generated in the past 6 months excel sheet sent by a big corporation. I personally have decided to actually bring in professionals who get excited about building business strategies when required and not try to just hope that I find my way through the 60 page presentations that talk about targets and SWOT analyses and let them tell me what the strategy should be. I’d much rather focus on taking that strategy and find a creative visual solution for it or as I like to put it, create some cool shit! This in turn gives me more time to focus on doing a cool looking gig poster for a friend who is going to perform his first set as a DJ, or create a fun little animation for a charity campaign by an NGO I support. Basically, stick to what you know and surround yourself with people smarter than you to help you along the way.


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