Twitter is great for sharing thoughts, but not so great for conversation and discussion. Maybe I’m long winded or just enjoy a good rant, but the reason for this post is to express my own thoughts and expand on those of others I recently read in a twitter convo. It involves the subjects of personal re-brands, practice, sharing your work publicly, and the annoyance it causes others.
The original tweet was an expression of annoyance at those redesigns of NFL helmets as an NBA team, Marvel hero, Star Wars things, or alternate what-evers; deemed a “waste of time”. (2 RTs and 12 favs.)
I do agree, mostly. The popular helmet designs at question are a waste of time for seasoned designers. There is nothing we can learn from them, there is little thought put into them, they’re very poorly crafted, and just down right ugly. weather or not they have value as entertainment, or as an experiment, however was the basis for the discussion that ensued. I think because there is nothing designers can actually get out of it, it is not entertaining for them. It seems to be for others who don’t care so much for design though and only view it as a novelty.
Thrown into the mix was the re-branding of re-brands in a designer’s own style, or “what they would have done”. This sort of thing pops up a lot after logo releases, like say for a popular Presidential candidate.
It is something a lot of us roll our eyes at. but, I’m guilty of doing it myself. After the Brooklyn Nets revealed their new identity I took a shot at refining the logo in what I thought was a more “Brooklyn style” and posted it to dribbble. Only speaking for myself, it wasn’t an attempt to “show up” the designers of the actual logos, but to see what I could do with the clear direction the team was heading, and see if I could execute on that concept a bit better - a personal challenge. But, it easily comes off as a “I can do it better than you” kind of move. I think that’s the annoyance others find with it, especially if that designer can’t actually do it better.
Moreover, the point would be raised that one’s opinion of a logo doesn’t matter and is akin to “I don’t like what George Lucas did to Darth Vader so here’s how he should look”. A good point. One’s aesthetic taste doesn’t matter, especially if you’re not trying to actually make it better, or fix problems and just making it different. This reminded me a lot of New England Patriots concepts where for some reason someone thinks it is a good idea to put the Patriots in a red jersey because they like the way it looks. It’s not good, and that move in particular is as dumb as you will find in sports concepts because of the messages and connotations that come with it. “Looking good” or “better” is a fallacy.
Another designer brought up the point that these attempts at re-brands of re-brands can be an exercise of skill development. That’s what I was going for with my own Nets logos, or at the very least an exercise to compare myself with what others had done with the same ideas. The learning would come in the comparison.
I think it is a good exercise. I also now see how annoying it is to others when shared publicly because it can come off pretentious.
Don’t confuse these things with personal work or well thought out re-brand projects. We’re talking about reactionary, 5 minute work here. Personal projects are vital to any portfolio. If you’re not doing the work you want to do for clients, then you have to do it for yourself. Then projects of similar work will follow.
Doing “re-brands of re-brands” can be worthwhile too, but I think it may be best if we’re just changing styles and aesthetics to keep it to ourselves. If you’ve actually fixed something and made it work better however, that is important. That is something that should be shared because then, you’re spreading knowledge, not opinion.
The next point made was to live and let live; we don’t have to look at these things that suck, so what’s the harm? I also agree with that, which is why I never RT the things that suck and am very conscious about the things I do share. If it comes from my twitter feed, it’s because I either think it’s great or funny. I encourage sharing of work from anyone, but I support the cream rising to the top.
I think these things get to us though, because they become popular and spread all over the internet. They’re picked up by ESPN even, all the while those of us who know better are left scratching our heads and wondering why the really good stuff we see doesn’t get nearly the praise it deserves. I think that’s the real cause of annoyance - the world is unjust.
“They’re more a training/practice exercise than anything”. The alternate helmet design trend is more about attention I think. That’s what I used it for when I did mine, which was a tongue-in-cheek response to the first group of terrible helmet designs. I have over the years designed my own NFL uniforms (for about 30 teams) and most had never been seen until I put out that graphic. I put it out online as a joke, but thought if it were to gain any attention, I would want it directed to the Creamer concept boards. There’s actually a lot of good work being done there and if my designs could potentially garner any attention, I wanted it to represent the CCSLC. There was nothing more to learn here, it was just an entertainment piece.
The best point was made next, that the re-branding craze as “mine is better than yours” is pointless and perhaps harmful, because the actual designers of the official piece probably didn’t get to do exactly what they wanted to do either. So much design is done by committee and approved by those who don’t know anything about design. Meanwhile, some dork with Ai trashes the firm/designer with his re-brand.
That is all true, a lot of design happens that way. It happens with me sometimes and when it does I take the Aaron Draplin approach. I’ll try to talk clients out of bad decisions and lead them down the right path and explain the reason I do everything the very best I can, and in the end if they want something stupid, they’re the ones that have to live with it. On to the next one.
I wish I were more like Paul Rand so I could fix that. We all should be more like him. He said he would do one logo for a client and that was it. You get one thing and it will work. you can use it or not, but you don’t get to make revisions or request. The solution will work and that’s what you get. Designers should design so clients don’t get design designers will re-design.
A clear line was made next. I saw a separation between professional and amateur, neither being right nor wrong, but definitely coming from different experiences. On one hand the professional made the case that sharing your work for “likes” wasn’t the right reason to be in design, perhaps like playing guitar to get chicks doesn’t make you a musician. The other person sees sharing work on reddit as an acceptable platform and practice.
There are a decent couple of design sub-reddits, but it’s not a platform for sharing good work professionally. It’ not where professionals spend a lot of time. not where clients go to find good designers, not a place for getting better as a designer, because its filled with amateurs sharing amateur work. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, but these are 2 different worlds. You can play guitar to create music, or you can play for entertainment and attention. Neither one makes you a good or bad person, but only one makes you an artist.
There is a paradox here. I believe you have to do good work and put it out there to get noticed. That’s why we do it, for attention. That’s why our portfolios exists. Attention, sharing, exposure, RTs, all bring more paying work of whatever kind you’ve put out there. But before you do good work you have to do bad work. When you start out, you’re going to suck. Your work will be terrible. I don’t even want to show you the stuff I did as a student, it’s really shit. But not everyone thought so and some people kind of liked it and paid me to do more things of the sort. Then I got better and the prices raised and the snowball rolled on from there.
I think we should be practicing in public. Do some really shit work, put it online, on reddit even, and hopefully someone will tell you exactly how bad it is. Hopefully they don’t give you unwarranted pats on the back or leave blasé, fuck-head comments, but really tell you what’s wrong with your work so it makes you better - so you can transition from being a practicing attention seeking amateur, into a knowledgable, attention seeking artist.