I occasionally read or listen to books that could be categorized as being self-help that deal with business, leadership, or other topics that could be interpreted as a cry for help. The more that I dive into these types of publications the more I feel the urge to read more of them. More than anything I like to keep up with the next catch phrase and dream of life on the business circuit as a motivational speaker. (Though purposefully I avoid phrases that involve the movement of any cheese.)
I have come to the conclusion that the problem with me is me, and much of the information provided in these books is generic, and these books promise more than they could ever produce, and at the very least are mildly thought provoking or entertaining (which happens to be remarkably similar to posts on this blog). Paul and my attempts to win friends and influence people have fallen short. I’m pretty sure Jedi “mind tricks” may have a better chance of success than IBD eliminating the use of Papyrus and Comic Sans.
Recently when I came across 100 Habits of Successful Graphic Designers by Sarah Dougher at a used bookstore, I couldn’t pass it up. The book was the perfect combination of self-help and design. After my initial scan of the index, and not finding anyone named Caputo, I knew the book had potential. The version of the book that I have was published in 2003 but I have recently found out that there are newer editions and specialized editions for freelancer designers and publication designers.
As I have said before, I have a short attention span and I like books that can be read in chunks and picked up and put down easily. 100 Habits allows this to take place easily with each habit only being one or two pages. The book is sold as is presented as if “grabbing lunch with a fellow designer to commiserate or celebrate.” Just like eating lunch with us without getting stuck with the bill.
The book is divided into eight chapters (like other non-picture books, from what I hear) with the topics of self-promotion, working with clients, workflow and in-house dynamics, continuing education, community involvement, technology, personal growth, and partnerships covered.
Rockport Publishing states, “Noteworthy designers, both past and present, working in fields ranging from graphic design, fashion, architecture, typography, and industrial design sound off on every topic, ranging from deadlines, inspiration, competition, rules, respect, education, and handling criticism-all with a certain amount of irreverence. Their thoughts are boiled down into succinct, quotable quotes and one-liners that exemplify their character and demonstrate their philosophy on the world around them.” Since I didn’t go to school to be a designer, I didn’t recognize many of the names but found their contributions interesting. As an interpreter who does design work I found their insight invaluable. Here is a sample of some of the habits. You will notice a steady diet of Cheetos and TastyKakes is not listed as one of the successful habits.
Habit #17 – “Don’t talk about CD art in a CD art meeting” offers solutions for working with invested groups. In this example about designing a CD cover/art invested parties involve the band, the label, and management which is not much different to working for/with visitors, resource, managers, interpreters, and the local community of an interpretive site. The featured designers have solved this problem by focusing on the needs of the artist, whose voice is often lost because of others’ interest (which is no different for the resource getting lost in the complexities of a project).
Habit #25 – “Find an emotional connection with your audience.” Okay, maybe designers should spend more time learning from interpreters.
Habit#44 – “Read it all, forget it all, and do your own thing.” Read page 91 of Interpretation By Design.
Habit #66 – “Make design invisible.” This habit asks the question “Can it (subject) be presented in a way that feels more memorable—that is designed but at the same time doesn’t feel like design overwhelms the information?” We write often here about the unique design of interpretive sites around the world. Perhaps we should be looking for those locations whose designs disappear in the subject and are not the subject itself.
I have learned from the contributions of designers in this book. I have also learned that Paul designs under the pseudonym CaptainKakes and still isn’t in the book.