In January, I started a semester-long journey as an instructor at a local art school teaching art direction to senior design students. These kids are preparing to enter the world as designers, developers, and art directors. The whole scenario takes me back in a sort of time capsule.
As a student, I was completely encompassed by the aesthetics of the world around me and how I can affect it or improve it. Posters, tv ads, logos, menus, you name it. But in that journey I never captured the meaning of what those vehicles were meant to do—which was communicate. Communicate ideas, thoughts, concepts, emotions, and stories.
Language defines things, and as any creative professional worth a damn will tell you, communication trumps style every time. Why does this matter? Kind of like a backup singer, good design plays its part by staying out of the way of the big idea. It’s just there to amplify it. If you are flashy and a brash show off, your product is going to suck. Likewise, you also need to understand what your creative work is actually saying.
When your team starts a project, it’s vital that everyone is using the same language. That way you communicate your message clearly. What could be more fundamental?
“Language defines things, and as any creative professional worth a damn will tell you, communication trumps style every time.”
As a student, someone told me that learning to write well will make me a better designer. I’ll be honest; at first I thought it was just a copywriter trying to justify his career to me. It took several years of working around smarter, faster, and more talented people until I learned what that really meant. And it’s one of the things that I tell prospective hires and students the most.
Why? Because language sells your work. Language opens the door for collaboration and education. It’s the play between those worlds that makes my job the unbelievably challenging and rewarding process it is.
Michael is the chief creative officer of FoxFuel Creative. He loves British music, vintage German cars, and American history—and his sarcasm know no borders. #DreamBig