Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Dave Dawson, a new friend of mine. As we talked about the industry, I shared my philosophy about staying inspired as a designer. Even I was surprised by the way I verbalized it.
I believe the work you do should reflect the sum of your life’s experiences. The things you go through have a profound impact on your expression. That’s why I find it troubling when something I make looks like something someone else had made. No one else has gone through the same things I have; what did I do wrong? What’s blocking my experiences from influencing this design? Anyone with minimal Photoshop experience can make reflective buttons. My design work should reflect my life.
- I’m half Pakistani, half Filipino
- I’m an older brother
- My grandparents lived with me until I was 18 and moved out to go to school
- I worked as a manager at several retail stores
- I’m a Seventh-Day Adventist
- I don’t know how to swim
- I’ve only lived in east coast urban cities
Those qualities should shine through whatever I create. If I design something that looks similar to what’s been designed by an only child living the Midwest that only speaks Korean, then I’m doing something wrong.
It’s done in a second and every experience and every movie and every thing of my life that’s in my head.
That’s why it’s nearly impossible for me to do work that I don’t believe in. If my work is inspired by my own experiences, then the work itself is an extension of me. Not just my skills or abilities, but my personality and character. I’ve turned down some great opportunities simply because the founder felt sleazy or the project goals conflicted with my religious beliefs.
How do your experiences influence what you create?