If they can be done better, cheaper and faster – then what the heck – why not?
This wonderful age of automation and digitization is so awe-inspiring – I can’t help but feel that everything Gene Roddenberry ever created for the soap box (that’s television for you youngins) can easily become a physical reality.
Communicators, automatic sliding doors, and even the beginnings of teleportation (albeit only with photons at this stage and only about 3 feet in distance – yes, I speak geek). It is all so wonderful.
But there is a problem.
You see, we have this annoying habit as a human race of not knowing when to stop innovating. Our economy has forced us to be leaner and more efficient. Some things had to be scarified, but it has to be done in the name of making it “better”. For instance, if that teleporter ever does become a reality, you will absolutely have to squeeze an exercise regiment into your day. Watch “Wall-E” if you don’t know where I’m going with this.
I also remember being fascinated by the “replicator” used in Star Trek as well. It was certainly quick and easy, but could it really know the intricacies its audience craved? And furthermore, could it invent a recipe that only a certain group of people would enjoy? The answer is no. It was not created to think, it was created to simply “do”.
Innovation is truly great but if not carefully considered, intimacy, attention to detail, and thorough understanding can become some of the casualties.
There are also more than a few things that have “materialized” in our own industry that have been great.
Years ago, direct-to-plate printing and the personal computer ranked very high in the “thank goodness” column – along with digital cameras and of course, the internet.
But these and other improvements have also unfortunately come with a cost as well.
Because of our incessant need to make it better and faster, there are a great many things, in particular to our craft, that have been, or are often viewed as, a commodity.
Design is one of them, and at all levels. Print, digital, typography, logo design – the list goes on. In the digital space, coding has become another. Photography? An industry almost completely eroded.
But we are only fooling ourselves.
Without emotion, understanding, education and personal flair it is rarely as good.
It has allowed us to become complacent. We are more satisfied than pleased. A “good enough” society, if you will.
Whether due to automation or general technology or crowd-sourcing or whatever – what you do for a living, like-it-or-not, is quickly becoming a commodity.
That’s how the rendering artists felt, or the film strippers and developers. They had to put away their brushes, burnishers and exacto-knives. In short, for them to continue making meaningful contributions to their industry, they had to evolve.
It will happen to you, too. In fact, it’s already happening.
And hence, it is time for you to evolve as well.
So should design and creativity also be among the commodities? After all, you can automate the creation of logos, have just about anyone set a headline and of course buy some fairly decent web templates – even responsive and mobile versions.
With bias, I naturally do not think they should.
The one thing “they” will never be able to commoditize is thinking.
That is what you need to evolve to.
When creativity is yielded with a purpose and used more as a language – it cannot help but truly resonate with an audience, and be an intimate and powerful thing.
They will never be able take that away from us.
And that really is the purpose of this post.
Don’t let them do it you.
Do not become the commodity.
Really understand, appreciate, dive into and be accountable to psyche and strategy.
Ask questions and be involved.
Create with purpose and direction.
And for goodness sake, stop throwing shit at the wall just to see what will stick. It shows a massive lack of confidence and little to no thinking at all.
Sure, you’ll get lucky once in a while – but your job is to be consistently brilliant. Not just brilliant some of the time.
Be unwavering in your commitment to stand out.
Latch on to and believe in an idea and give it your all.
Those logo and web template sites were not engineered with a share-of-mind purpose – and crowd sourcing is rarely intimate.
Those venues only exist to satisfy the needs of the uninspired.
They will only ever achieve “good enough” and it sets our industry spiraling uncontrollably in a backward fashion – because not only does crowd-sourcing turn you into a sheep – it returns us to the ugly place where the wolves play – where spec work is acceptable.
I won’t let them do it to me. Do not let them do it to you.
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