10/22/2006

The Graphic Design community is still …

I've only recently discovered Andy Rutledge's excellent blog, an unfortunate thing first because it is excellent and because, on its home page, Andy (whom I don't know) announces: "I'm done for a while." The blog announces that "This is the personal soap box and playground of Andy Rutledge — sometimes mild-mannered creative director at netsuccess in Dallas, sometimes opinionated sumbitch on this site." One can only smile.

At any rate (and trying to get to the point here), I was quite taken by an article featured on the home page. For those of you who deal with graphic designers, you may have been struck on occasion by an approach that borders dangerously close to a "my portfolio is all" kind of attitude. I may be singing to the crowd here, but I've encountered this before and found it mystifying. Yes, we want the site to look good, but it has to do a darned sight more than that. At any rate, says Andy:

In the context of the graphic design culture, the answer to this question is clearly evident; graphic design is not meant to actually be "design." It is treated largely as art and is meant to serve as a vehicle for individual expression. I believe the popular idea is that if that sort of work is effective for a client or sways the clients' target audience, all the better, but that's clearly not the aim or the point so far as the graphic design community is concerned.

For instance, there is a shockwave of nausea going through the advertising world now as clients demand to measure the effect of the marketing they purchase. They dare to demand a return on their investment! Go figure. This terrifies the advertising world. Why? Because they've likely not been involved in crafting design. Instead they've too often been indulging in art and creativity for its own sake. Things are different now and it freaks out traditional ad and design agencies.

Heck, it's not even about design? And yet the above statement is backed up by an article at Communication Arts entitled Advice From Those Who've Been There in what appears to be a series of quick interviews of graphic design luminaries, some of whom are leaving the business. One telling quote:

"To become more effective, designers need to think less academically and abstractly, and to appreciate the client's larger drivers and market issues."

and

As a result, the client gets charged for a lot of work that's not effective leading to unhappy clients… "Look at the frequency of ad agency churn; it's partly because the client is ahead of the ad agency…checking out all the different sources, particularly new channels, and the agencies aren't good counsel for them."

Which translates, I think, to not dealing well with new media (the Web).

That last article has some other interesting points, particularly the section entitled, "Design fees rarely make you rich". Something to read. <grin>

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