The Pipeline at 5by5

Designers Sell Their Work

Dan Benjamin is on a roll with the 5by5 podcasts. They’re a constant source of entertainment, education, and inspiration around the studio.

His chat with Mike Monteiro last week particularly caught our attention. Mike is the co-founder of Mule Design and a very smart fellow. About 35 minutes into the episode, Dan asks about designers who sit front of Photoshop (or Illustrator, or a text editor, or whatever) all day – what advice he would offer to those people.

I would tell those people they’re not designers. Designers sell their work. Designers get up in front of people and explain why they’ve made the decisions they made, and if you can’t do that, you can’t call yourself a designer. At least, not to me.

Strong words indeed. This struck a chord with us, and we were thinking about it a lot last weekend. Dan goes on to ask “Well, what are they then?

Doesn’t matter. They’re not designers, they’re nothing that I’m interested in.

Mike’s point is that you can’t just spend a day or two working on a pretty Photoshop mockup, hand it off to someone else, and consider your job done. You have to stand up in front of people, you have to state your case, you have to defend your decisions. It’s not enough to sit at a desk working on a project all day. The real learning, the real growth, the real lessons come from looking your client in the eye and convincing them that you’ve made the right decisions and come up with the best design for them.

Strong words, and good lessons. If you’re a web designer and you don’t listen to Dan’s podcasts, shame on you! Go listen to them right now.

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.