One day a week, I teach graduate and undergraduate design students at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Here is a concerning trend I’m observing:
In the past, when starting a project, most designers would dig into a subject, document impressions, draw, and gather information about the topic and problem.
Today, many instead gather a large group of images of other people’s design projects collected from Pinterest, Instagram, or similar design and inspiration portfolio sites.
These platforms of scrolling images inherently emphasize style over deep thinking.
There is no context for the images. What problem did they solve? What limitations and constraints drove the solution? Why was the solution unique? What impact did it make?
It’s effortless to consume images and respond emotionally to what you see.
However, when we consume superficially, we lose sight of the valuable parts.
Designers are effective — not when they can make something look good — but when they transform abstract concepts and changing variables into compelling experiences.
Engaging and compelling ideas — when well designed — connect businesses to audiences, realize strategy, differentiate products and services, and create exceptional experiences.
To be a great designer, start by creating, not consuming.
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