Graphic Language: Moving Forward & Getting Better

It’s better to fail doing something different, than to successfully follow in someone else’s footsteps.

The reason being is because trying new things, experimentation, breaking the rules, and ignoring your comfort zone is part of what progresses art forward, even if its just your own. The other parts may be finding how to do your own work (in the way Picasso talked about seeing the world with your eyes open, or how David Carson just “does what feels right to me”) and “stealing” ideas from others (another Picasso idea) but that’s for another post.

Different is good. It’s what makes art/design personal. It’s what creates new movements. Being different is breaking your routines and habits. So, don’t just think about being different from everyone else, but yourself as well. Try new things, new mediums. If you paint with acrylics then try spray cans. If you draw with pencils then try it with markers. If you only design logos, try doing a tri-fold brochure. The point is to keep moving forward both horizontally and vertically. Or in other words, be an expert in something, but also be well rounded. I promise you it will make you better.

Break the rules. You know how you’re not supposed to use more than 3 fonts in a design? well, that’s not bad advise, but next project say “fuck that!” and use 10! Or here’s a common art school project: try making a piece of art/design that doesn’t use any design elements or principles. Just try it.

Do you normally work in an office or from your living room? Go outside. Go to a coffee shop. Go to the beach. Or the middle of Montana. Change your environment, and it might change your art as well.

So what does it mean to fail in design? I think its anything you can learn from to better your craft, that was created by doing something new. Learning what not to do as much as what to do next time. That can also relate to ideas as much as tangible visuals. That’s not to say we can’t learn from successful pieces that are well crafted and lots of people like. But that often comes from playing it safe and standing close to the status quo. Don’t be boring. Try making something that just makes people say “what the fuck?”.

We can learn a lot from those who come before us, and its important to do so. But at some point we have to take off the training wheels and ride our own path. Be inspired by others, be influenced even, but don’t let others’ style and ideas be your only fuel for creation.  Most importantly, just keep creating. Stop thinking about it and just do the damn thing! That next piece is your ticket to getting better. And you can't get better unless you get to that next piece, so get to it.