What Differentiates A Designer From Another

By David Ofiare, Multidisciplinary Designer.

We live in a new world; one where talents and skills do not matter as much as dedication and a constant message. In fact, consistency has always been a solid pillar all through time, and I am afraid that would never change. Today’s discussion is a brief and careful look at what differentiates a designer from another in our age.

Colourised portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
Colourised portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (Source: Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Creative designers are…

…pretty powerful actors in society, as they determine to a very large extent, how communication is perceived in the wider world. Decisions and design choices now affect brands, individuals and thought silos more than ever before. This is mainly due to amplification — the type of amplification of voices and opinions that the internet brings.

Communication, interpretation of ideas and perception has now been greatly increased per individual. What that means is that as a designer/illustrator, whatever you do to communicate an idea for a brand has the potential to be seen more and can deeply affect more people. Think about this on your positive and negative decisions (the ones that used to be swept under the carpet in the past). This amplification is not privy to affecting just your indirect communication, but those that come from within you — like your character, consistency, attitude, energy and actions.

A tale of Leonardo da Vinci

The virgin of the rocks by Leonardo da Vinci
The virgin of the rocks by Leonardo da Vinci

Renaissance art giant Leonardo da Vinci was a very talented, yet hardworking creative who lived by one of his most important motto that read:

“Ostinato Rigore”

Powerful words that meant “constant rigour.” The artist constantly searched for perfection and unmatched beauty in all his works, which makes the story of Leonardo a very peculiar one. Rigour here represents deep research, analysis and scientific planning in the creation of any art piece, and this is what great design is today — a form of art dipped in scientific thinking and problem-solving.

Naturally, Leonardo was a very rebellious individual, but at the age of 15 when he joined Verrocchio’s studio (1467) as an apprentice, he had to settle down and learn, because he needed to. He turned to be one of the best apprentices with the amount of work he put into the tasks and assignments.

When he had learnt enough to be able to begin experimentation with his works, he took this up with the same motto and began to infuse subtle and major additions alike to his works. This came through days and hours of studies of elements in life and nature. Today, Leonardo is known worldwide as a great engineer, artist, and illustrator, and his works are preserved in galleries for years to come, as masterful pieces of art and design.

If you must be successful…

As an Illustrator or a Designer, you must pay attention to your direct communication with your work, language, posture, habits, audience and employers as much as you pay attention to communication in the little projects you are involved in.

You must partake in your craft with your entire self. Native speakers of Nigerian pidgin have a very apt way of categorising this action, which is: to put body. Simply to involve self in your quest for greatness (if that is something you care about).

A few areas to watch as creatives asides craft are:

  1. Character building.
  2. Response to pressure.
  3. Response to provocation.
  4. Response to praise.
  5. Approach to Mentee relationships and internships.
  6. Responsibility or irresponsibility (whatever the forté).
  7. Time management.
  8. Voice and tone pertaining to personal branding.
  9. Well being of your audience.
  10. Personal dedication to cause, amongst other gems.

Many Illustrators and Designers ignore these little things and focus only on craft, which has only one outcome — monumental and repeated failure. Constant failure demoralises actual talented people, which is not an outcome that we want.

You are playing a performance.

Like an Opera, every action you take is being watched and is a performance to a very large gallery of which the least number of watchers in attendance would be yourself. Hence, someone is always watching, even if you are doing it wrong — or right.

Ask yourself, would you be willing to sit through a musical (or comedy, etc.) event where the performer is doing a very bad job at it? A performance you paid to be a part of? Perhaps not.

Finally, the Internet.

The Internet is a large Opera with an endless supply of creative performers and performances, and whatever act you put up could either land you your next gig or send your career crashing into the dustbin. Take it easy my DearDesigner, and be more intentional along this web of opportunity.

Good luck!

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