Ask the internet on advice on how to become a better designer, and you will be flooded with design books to read, podcasts to hear, industry leaders, to follow. Ask a fellow designer on how to be better, and they would never emphasize specifically on gaining such knowledge. Why is that?
As all designers understand, there is no fixed path because nobody has it all figured out. Our experiences shape us, and the practice of our craft with time improves us. But have you ever wondered how that works?
Becoming a better designer means having greater exposure to the world, to the humans in it; it is to become a more informed human. As designers, regardless of the titles we hold, be it art director, textile designer, or UX designer. We all fundamentally solve problems keeping people in mind belonging to different realms of society.
The best way to become a better designer is by looking beyond our design community.
It is by interacting and hanging out with people from different industries- listening and learning from their stories. It is by reading non-design books and listening to podcasts involving psychology, science, politics, anything. It is by making non-designer friends who may not always agree with us on the way we view the world and its happenings.
People always look at travel for broadening their vision and outlook of the world, often forgetting there are ample other ways to do the same.
My brother, who is a designer too and I were just discussing this a few days ago, on how humans tend to fall for the trap of confirmation bias. We all like to hang out with people who think similarly, as it makes us feel comfortable; and this isn’t necessarily a conscious decision we make. As humans, we are drawn to what’s familiar, because what’s familiar feels safer to us. It validates our existing beliefs. You see it happening on online forums with all kinds of topics these days, be it politics, lifestyle, etc. (Anyway, that is a topic for another day).
If we keep surrounding ourselves with things that strengthen our existing beliefs, all we are doing is creating a bubble. As humans, as a species, what sets us apart is the constant possibility and ability to evolve and change our thoughts and perception.
And the best way to break out of this cycle of limiting ourselves is by looking beyond the design community. By being open, to people who challenge our beliefs, contradict our opinions; offering new perspectives.
Because, if not. Aren’t we trapping ourselves in a loop of repetitive inspiration? As designers, we are always required to question things, solving problems by looking at it with ‘fresh eyes.’ So why not here?
This opinion was shaped over six years while I was running my design business and interacting with people from different walks of life. It taught me empathy. I am ever so grateful.
As much as I enjoy design podcasts and books, I have learned to wait for that Aha! moment when someone or someplace you least expected from, tells another perspective that completely blows your mind away. Later, it makes you wonder how you never thought of things that way. In that very moment there- that’s growth. That’s you becoming better.
The more informed you are, the more woke your design solutions are likely to be. So let’s try and make conscious choices towards becoming better and more effective designers, one step at a time.
Thanks for reading. Would love to know your thoughts on this!
Stay tuned for Part 2. Coming Soon.