As a graphic designer, what do you see as the most often overlooked aspect of design?
I just use design as a tool to help clients simplify in whatever they’re doing. It’s more problem solving. People think it’s just aesthetics. The pretty factor or the form factor will be solved, but that’s maybe 20 percent of the problem, and the rest is what is the strategy or what is the problem we’re trying to solve. It’s collaborating with the client and talking with the client to figure things out.
How do you respond to those who think design is all about appearances?
To someone who isn’t a designer, like a businessman or an accountant, it’s all just aesthetics. … Once you’re in the field, you start to realize that, while aesthetics is great, we really want to put more out in the world that’s not shit. It’s already chaotic and busy out there and there’s information overload, so can we contribute, can we simplify.
What’s a typical designer-client relationship?
Sometimes, with a client, we have … a battle. When you go to a carpenter and he builds a deck, you don’t really collaborate with that. A carpenter … just builds your deck, you pay him and you’ve got a deck. With design, there’s a lot of trust involved. When you come to a designer, you almost expect them to wave their wand or do their magic. But a client (is) going to tell you whether (he) likes it or not. With a carpenter, you’re not going to say, “I don’t like that deck, do it again.”
How do you work around that?
For me, that’s where design really matters. Whether it’s branding or information design, it’s about getting to know the client, and the client’s mind and the customer. If I get to know the customer, I can really get to know who I’m designing for, what’s the strategy, instead of just making this brochure pretty. I don’t want to make things that are just pretty.
How has the emphasis on design thinking changed what you do?
We’re going through this transition as graphic designers, where 20 years ago, it used to be much more about craft. Now you can go out and buy a MacBook Pro and boom, you’re a graphic designer. It might level the playing field some, but you have to have these fundamental design skills because there’s an awful lot of crap out there.