What Designers can Learn from Stand Up Comics

Michael Bierut, of Pentagram fame, has shared on his Design Observer blog 7 things designers can learn stand up comics. I’ve extracted and summarized it here for our discussion and reflection. I’ve added my summaries below, but the 7 points are by Michael. Nice analogies Michael and thanks for sharing.
1. It’s all about the basics.
No matter what, you still need good design skills and a strong foundation.

2. Once you’ve mastered the basics, make your work your own.
Design is about problem solving. Good design is about bringing your own perspective to the problem solving process that results in a unique proposition.

3. Respect your audience.
Create designs that respect your audience. Understand them, know what makes them tick; then create a solution that resonates with them.

4. Know your tools.
One man’s food is another another man’s poison. A unique style, and favorite process or CAD software can be a boon or a “crutch”, use it sparingly and in the right situations.

5. Honor your craft.
Designers should push themselves to constantly do their best. Honor your craft by creating the most exceptional work there can be.

6. Don’t be afraid of failure.
To do your best, you must not be afraid to fail. This is because, to be the best you need to constantly surprise and be different from the competition. What is important is that you tried; it does not matter if it sucked.

7. Finally, never forget you have a special gift.
This is probably the best point of all. There is a big difference between a professional and amateur. Professionals are all the six points above, plus they have that talent or extra edge to take Design to the next level. Most designers actually forget that they have this amazing “gift”.
If you want the un-abridged version that is probably much better written than mine, check it out Michael’s full write up at Design Observer Blog.
(Hat tip to my friend Jackson for the link.)

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  • Paul Mckay

    June 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm Reply

    Great post. I think point 6 is the strongest of the lot and possibly, in my eyes, the strongest, ‘don’t be afraid to fail’.
    I feel that in our current society, fewer people are taking the risks they need to take in order to push the boundaries, resulting in the majority producing quite average designs. I firmly believe that you should always push your design skills to the max, only in doing so can you truly find out what kind of designer you are.

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