by Ana Davenport
A few weeks ago, I was at the bookstore seeking artistic-inspiration by shuffling through design annuals, when I saw upon the shelf a book called Designers Don't Read (by Austin Howe). In and of itself, this was funny to me, because there’s not one picture in the entire thing (I thumbed through it real quick). The book struck out at me because it’s a comment that I’ve heard and said many times in my career as a designer. It’s quite true that I rarely read the content of what I’m designing. This probably scares clients, but the fact of the matter is that my eyes focus on the overall visual – the layout, colors, shapes, textures, fonts, images. Do they work well together, do they flow, is it capturing the emotion that was intended? It’s an intense and vigorous process to create something that isn’t cookie-cutter-been-there-done-that, and as a designer, you don’t want to be the person who just hijacked a template.
I put the book back on the shelf, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There had to be a good reason someone would write this book and it would live on the shelf next to “100 Best Brochure Designs”. I finally went on to Amazon.com to read the description and reviews. The line that popped out at me was “[Howe] explores the creative process and conceptualization, and delves into what to do when inspiration is lacking”. Well, I was lacking inspiration, and I was frustrated by WHY I couldn’t get inspired. So, although I’m not really big on reading textual books for inspiration, the concept seemed really intriguing. It arrived this morning and I read the first chapter in my car as I waited in line at the drive-thru Starbucks. If you’re a designer, I can already recommend it, if solely for this sentence on the first page…”It’s not that designers don’t like to read or can’t read. Quite the contrary; I find most designers to be very curious, informed and intellectual in their approach.”
This is important to clients out there who are utilizing in-house or contracted designers – we aren’t stupid. We know how to read, we know how to spell. Our approach is very careful and intuitive. We love to be challenged with new projects and given crazy outlandish requests. Challenge keeps us focused, creative and inspired. But when we are asked to step away from a visual view point and read text for spelling and grammar mistakes, it halts that process. I should note that this is MY experience, and at this point, I’m not sure if this is the approach the book will take. But what I hope to learn is how to incorporate both the visual and contextual portions of a project without losing my focus, creative freedom, and most importantly, my inspiration.