Fernando Del Vecchio

A passion for design

Who doesn't want to feel passion for what he or she likes, and loves?

Read in spanish
Pasión por el diseño

You like to design, formally (or not) studied design, and fully enjoy the moments you spend practicing your (as you call it) art. But nevertheless, that “passion for design” never really reached your feelings. You think that maybe that passion is something others experience but eludes you. You like what you do, of course, but... passion? meaning the kind of emotion that should invade your whole being when you design, well, no... that does not happen. 

I believe that expressions such “passion for design” (or “passion for a start”) are meant to be motivational, but they are not. Somewhere along the way they can turn into a limitation, if the one who is supposed to feel that passion for their work does not experience it, and instead feels some other thing  —for example, guilt— or is forced to say that indeed they feel that way.

What is happening? You should feel passion, but:

  • Every time you try to convey that energy to any project you find a barrier in the client; 

  • You don't know how to transfer the energy because you need for someone to light the fire of that passion with a request. And that request does not come, and you don't even know how to make it arrive. 

Because things are that way. You have heard it and read it so many times that you hardly know anymore if it is something you truly believe in or has been imposed on you. And then, as every time you get an order to carry on the passion, you find limits, barriers, obstacles and refusals. Evidently, the one who embodies those obstacles becomes your natural enemy: the client. 

It's easy to think that the one to blame for the unfolding of passion in you is your client. It's kind of an automatic feeling. Such as when in a time of your life your parents were the ones that blocked the materialization of your projects  — and for a period of time, that maybe not even now has ended, you thought they were your “close enemies” — nowadays the figure constraining you is the client.

And so, you nurse lots of ideas around the problems you perceive and try to solve. And consequently, you erect a fortress. Every brick that constructs the fortress becomes dogma. You need certitude and every idea turns into one. You finish your castle and move to live in it. You inhabit your comfort zone. There's no way out — and you don't even care to — because every experience, each end result is filtered and judged through those beliefs. What's more, since you cannot interpret results through any other consideration,  they become stronger. It's so convenient, so easy, to live inside your comfort zone!

But you need to explain whatever happens and other ideas come around that also become new dogmas. Some of them appear as functions that the designer has to accomplish as part of a professional doctrine. For example: “educate clients”.

Educate clients?

Of course you want your proposals to be accepted, so you can work in peace, because you are the one in the know, you are the pro here, the designer that in the end will produce what the client wants. 

“I sell design and the client buys design”. That's your dogma. Nevertheless, evidence points precisely to the opposite direction. Clients know their business and their clients. They don't know about design and that's why they talk to you, but they don't need their request to be modified by“creativity”. They need their verbal request to be translated into a graphic rendering aimed at their audience. Their audience, not yours. 

Difference resides in the fact that sometimes, you design for an audience —the ones that evaluate your work— that is your own fellow workers. You work thinking about other designers, not your client. The client project becomes “your project” for “your audience”. Sorry, but the one who is paying for the project is the client, not your colleagues. Of course, part of the problem is in your failure to understand that design is a service. You feel the need to go unquestioned, because you regard that as weakness. 

Your strength as a designer could be the versatility with which you work for diverse clients, for very different audiences, that develops a bond of confidence with who and for whom you work: the client. 

In that line of thought, the mytical “passion for design” becomes an anchor that weakens your professional project instead of reinforcing it. Who or where are the ones that promote motivational messages such as feeling “passion for design”? You know, because you are part of that milieu, and questioning them is somewhat dangerous, for the pressure of a supposedly “passionate” professional group .

You don't want to be singled out for your lack of “passion”. That's all right. You don't have to confront. Maybe you should pay attention to those more experienced workers, the ones who know what this profession is all about, even though their “dispassionate” messages may contradict what you usually heard and believed.

Maybe those who exalt passion for design don't work as designers and do so in good faith, but perhaps don't understand the scope and consequence of their message. It is possible that the client is not the enemy but the means to at last achieve your passion for design. Maybe you should find real passion using design as a vehicle, not an end. Maybe you should question your dogmas and get out of your comfort zone. 

Author
Fernando Del Vecchio Tigre
Translation
Cristian Petit De Murat Atizapán de Zaragoza

Published on 24/06/2015

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