There are classic design principles that never go out of style. They’re the things you learn about in design school, or for the self taught crew, you read about them in design text books, and they give you a foundation to grow on.
Once you have that foundation in place, design gives you the opportunity to create anything. ANYTHING. The only limitation is your imagination. You can make things that previously lived only in your mind, exist in the real world. And it’s thrilling.
Some people are incredibly concerned about staying in the confines of current trends. They’re worried that if they don’t stay on trend, their work will be seen as irrelevant.
Here’s the thing: Do you know how current trends come to be? People try new things. They don’t color within the lines, they think outside the box and they GO FOR IT.
If people didn’t experiment, and go beyond the boundaries of what is in style, if they didn’t take those risks, there wouldn’t BE trends. Design would go from an exciting creative outlet to a run of the mill, boring machine that kicks out mediocrity.
My daughter and I were watching the news recently, and a segment came on about a hero who reached out and saved another man with headphones on from being hit by a car.
My daughter looked up and said, “But he’s not really a hero right? Because he only did one hero-ish thing.”
I thought about it for a sec and responded, “Actually, it only takes doing one heroic deed to become known as a hero.”
Then it dawned on me that the design world follows the same principle. Almost all of the most famous, iconic designers are known for creating one signature thing. It could be a concept, or a style, or a method, or a physical creation, but there is always that one single spark that ignites the bonfire that launches their career.
Once they become famous for their one brilliant contribution, many of the following things they accomplish in their careers are highlighted and given more weight than they would have been given pre-fame. (Some deservedly so.)
Even the previously unknown, brushed aside things they did before they became famous become part of their legacy, and those things are studied and dissected, and heralded as the beginnings of genius. And not all of the things they did before becoming famous are even remotely good. And that’s ok because a huge part of design is experimenting and creating new, different, terrible and fantastic things.
Let go of your death grip on current trends and what’s hot right now, and experiment and explore. If your clients don’t understand your vision, and they only want what’s on trend, give it to them (you do have to keep the lights on after all), but never stop experimenting and dreaming and being a maker of non-existent things.
Someone out there has to start the next hot new design trend, why not you?