I have an employer with whom I’ve got a very long working record now. That is, he’s one of my longest-running clients, with whom I also have a very good working and talking relationship. We’re always developing new concepts, whether it be in icons, interfaces or other fields of life unrelated to software (hi, D!). Lately, while we were exploring things, we were looking over websites like istockphoto – websites where people can upload and buy stock graphics. Most people I try to reach with Icon Designer and my blog aren’t the people who get their graphics at those places. When I am appealing to people who want to hire me to make custom graphics, it’s like they are pursued go to a very exclusive restaurant that caters to them. They could go to the Fast Food King around the corner and eat what everybody with a disregard for personal health eats, and that’s basically the choice at hand. Considering most people I want to reach want to sell their product, let’s say in this metaphor they are people who need to sell their body. It’s easy, fast and cheap to eat junk food. It’s also bad for them in business.
Now, I don’t want to generalize to say that all stock art is bad. Sure, some stock art can look very good. The problem with stock art is that it’s akin, but worse than, going to a company like “Logo Farm 2000″. This company doesn’t exist (hopefully) but they make a logotype for $200, in 2 days, with 99 designs to choose from. This company also doesn’t really need a brief for the design; a company name will do. With stock art, you buy something and integrate it into your visual identity; the imprint you leave on people, visually, and the emotions and messages you convey are a part of that. With stock art, you go off on your own blind faith in your judgement to chose whatever you like and put it into a context where you feel it fits. There are a few problems with this.
A. Stock art is not made for your company. It’s not made for your product. It’s simply not made for you.
B. Most people are not designers.
Design, especially in logo’s and icons, isn’t about ‘art’. Creativity helps make new, innovative, and inspiring metaphors and ideas to lay a foundation for a well-executed and polished design. Design itself is all about solving problems and finding a great solution for it. There is purpose in all things, in a sense that it is very akin to the development of applications. These two fields meet in the type design business, where people develop a lot of little solutions to make one, unified working whole for which they sell licenses, exactly like software. Although in the software and typeface business, there’s also a market to make custom software for a particular case, which is almost the same as the work I do.
Coming back to my point, if I design something for you, it wouldn’t be cheap. I have had enough email transactions in which people have had second thoughts about the price of my services. I don’t really make concessions (in rare cases) – I’d much rather point you to this post. It surely won’t be as cheap as a logo farm or stock art. The design I make for you will benefit from the working knowledge I have as a full-time designer; I’ve been living and breathing visual design since I was born, and have been sustaining myself with it for years. When I design something, I don’t feel like I’m sitting behind my desk ‘doing my job’; I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this Earth to do. I will strive to create something that you will completely agree to in every aspect; it will communicate to people, at a glance, what you want it to communicate. It’s a unique graphic, tailored to you. It’s also the visual identity of your product, or your company; something that’s hard to put a price on. You can look around you for examples of visual identities; they are ubiquitous today. I’d happily ask some other clients about what they think of the final product I delivered to them; I strive for something that will change your perception of this indefinitely. You’ll start craving the cuisine and never even bother to consider junk food.
Development, for applications, is considered blindly outputting code where the problem is -a- problem, and the only solution is the right one. Non-developers rarely see programming as a creative process, while it’s a very creative one, that touches art on as many (if not more) fields as design. Design, nowadays, is integrated into all the aspects of our life. Everything you meet has been involved with a process of designing visuals for a purpose. Think about type design again; making typefaces changes the actual appearance of our language. You can truly invent in every choice you make. It is exactly the same for software. They’re also goods which require purchase and installation to be useful; that’s much less akin to designing. If you develop software, every choice you take is important and has everything to do with design. Still think of it in black and white? Consider scripting ligatures in OpenType fonts. This means you have to script in certain conditions to make automatic letter contractions work. Great fonts have this. Is this design? Most definitely.
I have presented two matters in which I think people don’t see black and white and people fail to see the weight of custom design. I want to show you, and many others, that design is such an important matter, that we should be grateful for every developer, designer and artist out there. In reality, we are all working together for a grand goal; making everything better.