We’ve all heard the interview process of a small child: Why this? Why that? Why? Why? Why? But, what does asking “why” have to do with design? Simple: everything. Now that I have your attention, I’ll give the not-so-simple-yet-still-fairly-simple answer.
I recently watched a talk on ted.com from Simon Sinek. The premise of his message is that we all do whatever it is we do backwards. He defines the “golden circle” of leadership and communication wherein we typically know what we do. Some of us know how we do it, and very few know why we do it. The problem is that we should instead figure out why we do what we do, then develop how we can convey why that matters into what we do to accomplish our purposes.
This got me thinking. Do I know what I’m doing? Yes, easy, I design things. Great, I fit in with the rest of the world. Do I know how I do it? Yes, I think I do. I strive to perfectly meet the needs of my clients, be fair and honest about what works, what does not. I follow certain guidelines and procedures when coding, shooting, editing, etc. Great, I fit into the elite category of those that know how.
Why do I design?
That one caused me to ponder a bit more. I design for a paycheck. Ah, but as Simon pointed out, that’s a result. I design to accomplish some marketing purpose for a product, person or idea. Oh, don’t I just sound like the happy little cog now? Hmm, need more meaning to why I do it. Then I realized it. I’ve been drawing since I was four. I’ve been interested in design since I was young too. I wanted to design my own car when I was sixteen. I’ve wanted to create my own clothing line, home plans, T-shirts, swords, guns. You name it, I’ve probably wanted to design my own. I just like design. I like the process of coming up with something original, following plans, or just “freestyle” to see what I can come up with. I like taking the plan and putting it into action. Whether it’s building a website or a Hummer replica.
I like website design because of its power to reach a worldwide audience. I like graphic design because I like to give an abstract idea or message some tangible mode to accomplish a desired purpose. So, now that I’ve discovered why I design, what to do now?
If you are like me, you can’t merely be satisfied with focusing on one aspect of design. I mean, there are dozens of completely different design fields: culinary design, interior design, graphic design, website design, UX design, industrial design, instructional design, engineering design. What if I like them all? What if I know how to do something of each area? How do I make a career of it? Or is it merely, I have a bunch of hobbies?
Thomas Edison said, “If we did all things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.” I’m reaching a point in my life where I have the realization that I can’t do all that I want to do, either for reasons of time or money involved. But, can I do all things I am capable of doing? Does the answer lie in the area of specializing in something?
This post just leaves more questions than it answers. I guess I’ll end here for the sake of leaving some self-induced confusion for another day.