Form

In this world of polarized information, one’s opinions are either right or wrong. But, we live in a multi-faceted world of many views. I tend to see the world like a drawing to communicate form.

Unlike a black and white world where it is easy to hide information and distort a form, an artist knows that there is highlight, form shadow, core shadow, reflected light, and cast shadow. There are even more aspects like occlusal shadows, umbras, etc…

So understanding a true form requires several values to visually communicate. The more values, the stronger the form is communicated. And, the more complex the form, the more values we have to understand.

When we truly seek to understand any issue, like immigration or abortion (note: pick any social issue today), we have to see all the subtleties of the issue(s) and all the points of view to see the whole issue. Nothing is black and white. The world does not work that way and we have to truly see the issue like we truly see a form–many values together create the whole.

Any time you need to truly understand our world and all its issues, remember that we need to look at a cube. The cube has many values for us to visually understand it. All issues have many viewpoints to truly understand it. If you want the truth, don’t be afraid to see the highlights and all its shadows.

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Summation

For information to occur, 2 or more things need to happen. Similarly, for an experience to be successful, we need a continuous neural stimulation or summation. This only happens when 2 or more neural connections fire over time to create potential action.

In my opinion, an experience can only happen from a continuous summation of stimuli. Otherwise, just one neural stimulus will quickly degrade over time. But, a continuous flow of stimuli (a mathematical summation) will eventually hit a threshold wherein an experience becomes special.

Advertising understands this principle (probably not to a molecular level). With a calculated bombardment of a message, we can start to create an experience—good or bad.

Design, being a vehicle to convey such messages, can really take advantage of summation. By skillfully including components that can induce continuous neural stimulation—creating summation—we can do more than convey messages, but ultimately, create change.

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Changes

Human senses only perceive change in the context of time. We see things only when it moves, we hear things only when there’s a change of rhythm, we smell things only when it’s different, etc… When things are perceived as normal in our environment, they are no longer perceived. They become invisible to our senses. This is essential to our survival—danger is a potential change in our environment.

In the world of design, we seek to understand our target audiences in order to impress them and attract them. This attracts. It doesn’t change them. I question some of the wisdom of that traditional design thinking in order to introduce new products and services or to change traditional thinking. Our target audience is used to the things they like. If that’s the case, how can they notice your design? If your target audience surveys say they like the color blue and you give them blue then how can you get them to SEE something new. I propose you design with a slight twist—if they want the color blue, give them blue-green, indigo, etc… (something familiar to attract and something new to help incite change).

Know your target audience but don’t spoon feed them the same stuff. Get them to go on a hero’s journey to something new… to change. Find the opportunity to truly design cool things.

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Glory and Sacrifice

Whenever you see a successful person you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them. Anything worth manifesting and creating inherently comes with it all the obstacles needed for its conception.

Everything that is built in our world has been designed. It’s this design process that is mysterious and misunderstood–a process often grouped in with the fine arts. Although there is an art aspect to what designers do, there is an intense discipline to doing things right. We design for an audience of thousands, not for an audience of one (which is one of the inherent differences between design and art).

We see the results of great design but keep in mind the hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours visualizing, concepting, and prototyping before we actually start testing and production. From something as simple as a poster or a business card, the choices of composition, color, fonts, substrates, etc… had to be researched and decided upon if it had to be done right.

Keep in mind the sacrifices that were made for a simple smile on our client’s faces. The simple glories we take away from a project are private and lonely. So next time you experience a design you like, make sure to thank a designer (if not in person, in your thoughts).

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Successful

Successful entrepreneurs are often givers and not takers of energy. They have an almost magical ability to bring out the best in us and in so doing bring out the best in the organization. They create a continuous supply of motivation and energy. Motivation begets energy and energy begets motivation. The formula is easy, but the execution is complicated.

Designers are often faced with that task as well. Our design solutions must give energy to the person experiencing the design. The composition, components, and concept work together to motivate the viewer to expend energy to experience the piece. Once the viewer is in the design experience and it resonates with the person, he is motivated to share it with the world. And, if it is very good, it can become viral.

It’s this understanding of how positive energy works, that the field of design differs from so many other fields of study. It’s art; it’s engineering; it’s psychology; it’s sociology; and it’s magic.

Be aware of how a design solution affects your energy level? Does it give or take energy? A designer’s success depends on it.

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Information

When we really try to comprehend and understand the world around us, we are bombarded by information. In order for designers to truly communicate a message, we have to process and interpret all this information to a specific targeted audience. So we truly have to understand the nature of information–what is it?

Information is made up of at least 2 entities (real or imagined) such that the difference between them is immanent… and that difference must be interpreted inside an information-processing entity.

Each entity alone cannot exist without a context. It is a non-entity, such as the sound of one hand clapping. The stuff of sensory sensation, then, is at least a pair of entities that the human brain can compare it with. Thus the difference between the two is information that can be processed and communicated.

For example, in simplest form, night cannot exist without day; off cannot exist without on… etc. And, the difference is information that can be communicated.

Designers cannot introduce new concepts to a target audience that has no concept of where to categorize this information.

Just another thing to think about.

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Serendipity

Serendipity can be defined as the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Additionally it is an interesting phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for.

In the world of design we should embrace the power of serendipity–sometimes it’s better to explore ideas outside your main goal so you can see bigger ideas waiting to be discovered. We should always be open to any opportunity of cross-fertilization of game-changing ideas, products, services and organizations.

We are often so staunch in our embedded processes that these become rules that should never be broken. As any designer worth their weight in talent knows that, “…there are rules of good design, but good design does not always follow the rules…”.

Always try to see the absurdities in life and how that can create new paths of thinking. Be open to chance events. Chance occurrences in life can be the antidote for your design dilemmas. We’ve forgotten how to think “wrong.”

P.S. It is July of 2018 and the state of graphic design is pretty blasé. I hope we get out of this brutalistic look soon.

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