June 1, 2019

Bad designer

I fall short as a designer. I feel like I am not as committed as I need to be, that I am not living up to design ideals because of who and how I choose to be. It’s not a matter of impostor syndrome (at least not entirely), it’s a feeling of disconnection to what I normally see represented, appreciated, and encouraged on the design industry.

There seems to be a right way to be a digital designer nowadays. A pretty narrow set of topics, a way of dressing up, an aesthetic, a common taste, a lingo, a shared set of values. I guess it might be unavoidable for the members of a community to start behaving alike and I’m definitely not an exception. But I’ve also never felt like I truly belong, at least not my entire self.

It might be the fact that I never studied design or the mix of minorities I’ve always represented on my teams, but I’m quite sure the biggest reason is boredom. This is when I commit social suicide but the ongoing discourse of the design community mostly bores the hell out of me. I cannot believe the amount of time and energy our community has spent discussing wether designers should code, which new design tool is the best one or glorifying the fuck out of design systems. Are we really ALL interested in the same things? Isn’t there anything else to talk about? I’m obviously generalising, and of course there’s a broader discourse out there, but am I really the only one SICK of reading about the same topics over and over again? Attending the same type of conference? Listening to the same design leaders?

I try to be an informed designer in order to become a better professional. I understand and champion the value of design in every organization I’m in. I love my profession and enjoy our craft. I’m incredibly grateful and proud to have found this industry. But to be quite honest, until fairly recently, I never got to actually and deeply relate to it.

I’m going to put this out there for the universe, even if I’m the only one needing to hear it. The idea that there is a right way to be a designer is exclusionary and wrong. Design is an incredibly rich and diverse discipline, and nobody should feel like they need to fit the overly represented type of designer to be a part of it. You don’t need to be interested on the same topics, learn the same things, or design the same way. Digital design is still in its infancy, we are all figuring this thing out, we are all catching up with technology advancements, and having the incredible honor and responsibility to shape the multiple digital experiences and interactions of the future. We need a similar rich and diverse set of people for the job. It’s the only way we’ll do a good job. Do not think that you’re not good enough, creative enough, tasteful enough, or whatever the fuck enough to be in this industry. This industry has enough of what it already has. We need fresher perspectives, different topics, and opposite views.

I’m done trying to fit a mould. I’m slowly getting to understand my personal perspective, meeting others that cherish and support that, finding inspiration and knowledge on unusual places, and figuring out how to own that, both on my work and personal life.

I encourage you, whoever you are, to do the same. Your unique set of strengths, experiences, and views, matter. Your true interests will be interesting to someone else. That’s the value you’ll bring into the world, and that’s the person and professional you should be. Let’s stop faking passion for things we are not passionate about. Let’s start talking about different things, exploring new ideas, and challenging each other.

I’m bored. Aren’t you bored too?