Profit | Social | Kirk Steineck


First of all I disagree with the definition of the personal agenda that has been provided. The definition provided states that designing for the personal agenda is to design to the personal tastes of the consumer. This to me makes no sense. Designing in a personal way, to me, means designing to my personal taste, to designing with my interests in mind. Not my boss, not the client, and especially not the consumer. I believe that a designer designing for him/herself is something that is ignored and a little bit of a foreign concept to most designers. As a designer one of the greatest challenges is working with the customer, pleasing people who have different tastes and ideas, and some times we designers get to work with many different tastes and opinions at once. Such as committee based design. Gary Hartley, posted a humors, and terrifyingly accurate summation of what designing by committee can be like.

"A typical committee based design process

1. Initial design consultation with client
2. Design spec developed and pre-agreed
3. Ideas generation and presentation to client
4. Feedback
* Susan gives her thoughts
* Clive gives his thoughts that contradicts Susans
* Malcolm gives his thoughts 2 weeks later that contradicts Susans and Clives
* Mike loves it and doesn't want any changes making
* Clives wife adds her two cents
* Two members of the committee fail to give feedback
5. Designer makes revisions
6. Feedback
* Susan loves it
* Clive hates it
* Malcolm gives his thoughts 2 weeks later that contradicts his original changes
* Mike wants it how it originally was
* Clives wife adds her two cents
* Two members of the committee fail to give feedback
7. Designer makes some more revisions
8. Feedback
* Susan hates it and wants revision 2
* Clive has a shouting match at Susan and demands further changes
* Malcolm gives his thoughts 2 weeks later that contradicts his second set of changes
* Mike wants it how it originally was
* Clives wife ends up having a fight with Susan
* Two members of the committee finally give some feedback on revision 1
9. Designer can now either A. Quit. B. Call a design clisis meeting. C. Demand all changes funnel through one person only. D. Goes on a manic killing rampage.

Luckily the designer chose C and Susan was the designated first contact

1. Revision 3 evaluated
2. Amends agreed
3. Susan passes on feedback from all comittee members
* Clive wants to try another strategy
* Malcolm disappears for a month to his villa in Spain
* Mike wants it how it originally was
* Clives wife apologizes to Susan and gives her two cents
* Two members of the committee finally give some feedback on revision 2
4. Designer rightly demands further design budget... the committee say no!"

This is what I would consider the opposite of designing for the personal agenda. And unfortunately this is what we deal with on a daily bases as designers. So why shouldn't we design for ourselves every once and a while, is it bad to make an awesome, totally fake gig poster for your favorite band? I don't think so, I believe that is the only way we can stay sane.

So how does this relate to profit? Well my first reaction is that fun design can not be profitable unless you are one of those lucky few who get to make awesome, totally REAL gig posters. But this is not necessarily true. Take Aaron Draplin for instance. Aaron is a designer who got his start in Minneapolis, and now runs a small shop in Portland. This guy is not only a great designer, but he makes some money too. And the best part is he has fun doing it. The draplindustries website is full of self indulgent products, that I am sure don't pull in a whole lot of income, but they do give people a sense of this guys personality. Aaron's personality is what I believe has made him so successful. Having fun, designing things, for personal reasons, has contributed to his success.


This $3 comb, can't be making Aaron a ton of money, but it was posted on design blogs all over the place. These fun little projects can make a deference in profit.


Absolutely hilarious AND terrifying! In my little bit of experience as a designer out in the world, that scenario is often reality, and never more so than with pro-bono work. The more money they're paying for your time, the less time they waste. Also, I agree with you about the definition of 'personal' agenda - after all, since we're all in this more for love than for money, we should personally love at least some of what we do. (Enjoyed the draplindustries site!)

I love that the designer you reference is able to produce items that are obviously just funny ideas that he wants to share with the world. I think that many of us come up with really great quick ideas that are more funny than profitable, but we don't have the time or resources to produce. So we share our idea in our own words with whoever is nearby at the time and laugh about it without writing it down or ever making it. Lately every good idea I come across gets a small verbal footnote of "something to do during winter break." If I ever actually did all of the things I say I will do during winter break then I would get no break at all, in fact I would likely sleep just as little during break as I do during the last few weeks of the semester. This hope of doing fun projects "during winter break" (or any other down time) is what makes me love design. The constant flow of visual puns and nerdy references for designers humor is what makes daily tasks worth while.

I completely agree with you that sometimes there is little we do for ourselves personally as a designer and more for our clients, bosses, etc. I love that you included that humorous scenario about the typical design process in the workplace. After having some outside experience through internships, I find that this is the reality a lot of times. Most of the times, we will be working for others who are not designers or have no background in design whatsoever, forcing us to learn how to balance between pleasing our clients while somehow inputing our design knowledge and aesthetic.

I think to be a good designer you must do the fun stuff for yourself! The fun stuff that we think of that so often gets shoved to the side because it's "not important" IS IMPORTANT! This fun stuff is what gets our creative juices flowing and working. This "fun stuff" is our way of brain storming and creating! Everything that I have done for fun has not only enhanced my abilities as a creator but I find that I end up incorporating a lot of these ideas into "real work" or the so called important stuff! So I say do the all the fun stuff, write it down, think about it, create it, play with it! ha Your creative juices will flow better and it will be easier to help clients because you have your fun as well!

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This page contains a single entry by stein935 published on December 2, 2010 11:43 PM.

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