I bet you have heard people say one of these statements to you... ‘I’d love to but I am busy.’ ‘If you did xyz, it would go better.’ ‘Why didn’t you do this or that?’ Statements like these are discouraging and make it feel like the things that are important to us aren’t so to others and even as we work to achieve big things, no one is really interested.
Recently Steve Nderitu of Karakana Initiative posted something online that really caught my attention. He said, ‘The creative industry will continue to suffer, if all we are doing is competing in our small groupings instead of collaborating.’ Why did it catch my eye? Simple, it is true.
Imagine with me what it would look like to be able to influence government policy and education reach. Imagine how it would be to have well trained and experienced young designers. Imagine the joy of being able to make a great living from ones trade and not have to worry about ideas being stolen. Imagine industry standards that are applied and maintained like other specialisations including but not limited to architecture, engineering, law and medicine. Imagine how good it would be to get internships and jobs for all graduates of design colleges and universities. Imagine how good it would be to have a referral system that grows designers in and out of school. Just imagine that and realise there is so much more.
So let’s talk design collaboration. When was the last time we had a project that attracted all design disciplines? Have we ever had one? When was the last time you took a young designer under your wing and helped them grow? When did you last open a door for a fellow designer to walk through? We are more focused on growing our work so we don’t tell the stories of collaboration or maybe we don’t see the long term perspective of working together. There are a few things I see that will come out from the kind of collaboration Steve was asking for.
First is greater influence. Think of the current design bill that has taken a while to be pass through parliament. Do you know that if there was stronger collaboration the needed numbers to sign off would have been attained faster and it would have already been passed and implemented? The bill calls for standardization of the definition of a designer as well as accreditation that can only be achieved with a well-planned structure and team of professionals to coordinate the vetting and approval. This is all unattainable without collaboration.
Second we have impact. I define impact as value given back across generations meaning it could go forward to those ahead, to peers or to those coming behind. The place with greatest impact needed right now is the young generation coming up. At the recent typography conference held on December 7th 2018, it was interesting to hear students getting excited about being at this high level conference and never having experience at speed design tests and designing in tight timelines. It was even more interesting to watch them hang onto every word the professionals said and watch the professionals come alive sharing with and listening to the young designers. Both parties were changed irreversibly by hanging out for a day. Imagine how much more we can do together.
Third is creativity. It is impossible for one individual to fully know and understand any matter and different opinions at any discussion help increase the quality of ideas developed. A look at any industry will show how it is often the same set of people speaking and creating the narrative commonly called influencers. Imagine a day when a group of new design voices arise and give new perspectives that drive deeper and more complex conversations that lead to better problem solving through viable unique solutions. This would mean that design would grow and provide the needed connection to transform the community.
Fourth is community engagement. Every sector needs design whether it understands or accepts it or not. Good design would ensure the needs of all are catered for, the signage is the right font and size to be read, the placement of elements would benefit all, the use of colour would create the desired atmosphere and evoke the right feelings, and the list goes on. In the long run, the community would be more comfortable thanks to design.
The reality is that this change is not the responsibility of one person rather the whole design fraternity has to come together. At times the task is daunting but I believe that if a few designers come together and showcase the value of collaboration others will follow suit. Question is who will start the process? Who will lead the way? Who will rise to be counted?
Kyesubire is a visual scribe and storyteller using words and images to connect all aspects of life. She powers from faith to food to health to nature in ways that encourage viewers and readers to find balance in life through its connectivity. She is telling HIStory of hope, love and family.