An Epiphany

The results of careful listening

Last week I was attending Adobe MAX in LA for my 6th consecutive year, not counting the year there wasn’t one. It was one of my first conferences as a designer, and as such, I have some great memories. I love meeting new people, being inspired and catching up with old friends. It is, however, a big conference. So big, that I never seem able to get to all the sessions I really want to. Adobe must know this and records all the sessions for me to enjoy at my leisure. So, I was back in the office on the Friday after MAX and found myself watching James Victore’s, How to Tap into Your Creative Voice and Make Work That Matters.

The moment I realized my doubt

As I listened/watched while working through some designs I had to catch up on, I heard James emphasizing putting yourself as a designer into the work you do. Without that personal touch, he goes on to stress, the work has no identity; no originality. He continues (I’m paraphrasing) “You are unique, your voice and expereiences; unique. Your personality has to be a part of your work. The client is paying you for “your voice”. I realized that I had spent a large part of my career chasing designs that were interesting to me. I followed trends and styles that I wanted to try for the sake of the aesthetic. In short, I found myself asking, “What is my design style?”. In my mind I went back through all the projects I’d worked on; those that had meant something to me. I found a few that were unique to me. I found sparks and ideas that reflected my character and passion. I couldn’t find, however, the undercurrent of my personality in all that I did. I had examined my work and found it lacking a consistent voice.

Seeking a remedy

Feeling the shortcoming of my work, I began on my odyssey to identify my personal design style. It also, rather conveniently, falls into a redesign of my blog and portfolio. So, over the next days and weeks, I’ll be exploring designs that mattered to me from my childhood until now. I’ll be posting and sharing what I find to help me analyze the elements of these designs and how they shape my personal taste and style. I’m not really sure what I’ll discover and I don’t think this is a “once-and-done” type of exploration.