Recently, I witnessed a conversation over Twitter between a number of designers that railed against the “popular” mechanism and purported that most designers are more infatuated with being a designer than actually designing. It was laced with superiority; creating a distinction between themselves (i.e., true designers) and the masses of these “posers”—uninspired hacks who do little else than cobble together old or repurposed work for their own personal gain. As if the modern state of design is little else but a sniveling, talentless, cesspool of bad work.
Remind me again when the Golden Age was? When Design was perfect and untouched by muddy hands; a clear cut, faultless art form without blemish or scar. When everyone involved was drenched in divine insight and no work was poisoned by the hand of human error.
It’s easier to throw stones than it is to build up. It’s easier to break things down and find the faults instead of working to create a better world to work and live in. Anyone can find something that’s wrong with the world—some injustice we feel is being perpetrated in our lives. But instead of offering solutions, we stand back from our high places and hurl stones. In that way, we come off as grumpy old men, sitting on a porch pretending that all of design is our “lawn” and chasing off any of those who’d seek to make it anything less than what we believe it should be.
We become enamored with the “Glory Days”; some imaginary time when things were simpler, less dire, and more favorable towards our own craft.
But is this really the way we want to work? Is this air of exclusivity and arrogance truly something we want to project?
Is there bad design out there? Sure. But only in the same way that there are bad films, bad television, bad music, and bad *insert anything you want to put here*. Our complaining about the state of design and creating a chasm that’s actually just an "Us Vs. Them" mentality does nothing but raise our own egos and pat ourselves on the back for being one of the last true creatives out there.
This self-congratulatory behavior isn’t helpful for Design and it’s anything but helpful for our own personal lives. It reeks of self-importance and is tinged with the frustration of our own work not getting the credit we believe is deservedly due.
Dribbble isn’t the only metric for a design's success. I’d find it difficult to argue that anything that makes it to the Popular page is of poor quality. Are there going to be pieces you disagree with, don’t care for, or think just plain suck? Absolutely. But that shouldn’t invalidate any and all of the work that finds its way to the top of a given site. This sort of poisonous thinking only goes to further our own masturbatory view of ourselves at the expense of others working in our industry.
In fact, you could argue that we’re actually putting more stock into design. Rethinking and reshaping our world for the more intuitive. Companies are investing in smarter design decisions and people everywhere are coming up with solutions. The internet is making distribution unlimited and universal. The next great solution could come from anywhere: Be it a seasoned veteran working in San Francisco or a bright kid from Michigan who’s still in High School.
I’m reminded of the wonderful words of Pixar’s Ratatouille:
This is a world full of possibilities.
And it seems like as good a time as any to be in Design.