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The industry as seen by top designers.

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Thoughts on the State of Design

Who decides what is good design?

by "Industry Professional" (February 15, 2010)

(Note: The previous issue of CLN included the following comments from one of the industry's most successful designers. Her comments inspired another industry pro to answer her. First, here's the original comments, following by the answer.)

"More and more, scrapbooking designs come right off the pages of Dover clip art and have become very homogeneous. With the speed to market, and the influx of inexperienced, non-professional designers creating product for pennies, no wonder so many illustrative artists are making their way over to the quilting market and leaving the crafting world behind.

"While the scrapbooking industry did create excitement at the consumer level when they started calling everyone who crafts a 'Designer,' it set off a downward spiral for design in general for our industry. The standards are now so low, that people who put a sticker on a card now get credited for being the designer, with less and less acknowledgment of the real designer who figured it all out in advance and who started with a blank sheet of paper and her imagination.

"One can only feel sad that an industry based on creativity does not truly support it. I really wish the industry would focus less on making stars out of 20-somethings who have the 'look' and more on those who offer innovation, smart design, and imagination." Name Withheld

The answer

I just read the comment in your newsletter from an artist downgrading creativity that comes from "clip art" and 20-somethings. It seems that author thinks that designs and ideas should only come from an elite group of artists.

Great ideas, new trends, and designs come from everywhere. That is what makes our industry grow! So what if designs are created from clip art, if that is the look the consumer likes, then what's wrong with that?

Kudos to creative people who see the world in a different way; that is what drives new trends, ideas, concepts, and innovation. These talented, creative individuals were previously consumers who love to create and design and want to share their work with others. I have worked with artists and designers for many years (30) and the new talent and new ideas that spring forth each year amazes me. If being "published" or mentioned is the goal of new designers or consumers, then more power to them! Some of them become famous in our industry. This not only drives sales of our products but gives others a goal to aspire to.

Many pioneers in our industry were not artists or illustrators, but they taught us how to use our own inner creativity and they wanted to share their love of crafting.

True, there are many talented artists and illustrators who service our industry. Together we all make a team: artists, designers, innovators, craftsmen, and marketers. It takes all of the team to make a product successful. Because a young designer is not an "illustrator" does not make her any less valuable.

Sometimes I believe we forget that we are a teaching industry. We want to share our love of crafting with others. And if these designers are 20-something and use clip art, and they become stars because of their look or lifestyle, then we as an industry are successful

As for me, I truly appreciate what the younger generation is doing for our industry. They are our future and they do not need a degree in art to share their creativity with the world.

Editor's Note

Clearly, scrapbooking has made life difficult for professional designers, because many scrappers are so thrilled to be published or named to a company design team that it never occurred to them to ask to be paid.

But the debate over quality design has gone on for decades. While "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," in fact sales are in the eye of the consumer.

Care to join the conversation? What should be a designer's top priority, appealing to the masses or letting the chips fall where they may by expressing her true creative spirit? And what's fair? Email your thoughts to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.



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