Think + Do » an exploration of mission-driven marketing and design
When I was a boy, I loved to draw. Sharpen a No. 2 Ticonderoga and transfer visions from my head to the nearest scrap of paper. Round up the old cigar box full of crayons and try to find a scrap of Burnt Sienna big enough to hold firmly in nubby little fingers. Snip, snip, snip with dull scissors on softly colored sheets of construction paper.
Growing up a sports fan – my dad could enthusiastically hum the fight songs of every Big Ten school; and with five brothers and a sister there was always a game to be played – my interest in drawing and sports eventually overlapped. What began as portraits of local heroes – Rod Carew, Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman – faithfully reproduced from magazine or newspaper photos, evolved into something much bigger.
By the time I was ten, I had created my own personal sporting empire. I named the teams, designed the logos and uniforms, and staged games between them (the Minnesota team usually won). With a quarter and two Rice Krispies box tops, I bought a football game with a ball-shaped marker that slid down a groove in the middle of the field. Plays were called by rolling dice and referring to a chart (of course I added my own). I invented a baseball game using a deck of playing cards – aces were singles, the four of spades was a home run, the king of hearts was a stolen base. And I kept statistics. Every team was fully stocked with players I named – some even had their own baseball cards. After a few years I published a magazine – drew the “photos,” wrote a story about a player on each team, assembled and mailed it to my grandpa.
The point is this: I’ve been trying to shape the world around me for a long, long time.
When passions and talents intersect
I believe that being a designer, thinking like a designer, is as much a personality trait as it is a profession. I feel compelled to communicate, to make things clear. I find beauty in simple, human-centered solutions. I am always looking for a better way – more meaningful, more inventive, more impactful – because good just isn’t good enough when great is the goal.
In that way, I’d like to think, I am much like the people I work with at colleges and universities, social service agencies, and cultural institutions. No one goes into non-profit work for the money, they do it for love. They love to see an immigrant acquire the confidence and skills to transform his neighborhood. They love to see a dog swimming after her master’s stick because the river is clean enough to play in. They love to see the undernourished baby get the health care it deserves. They love shaping the world one person at a time. And I love helping them succeed.
As a designer, success is not about making the tri-fold brochure look nice by Friday. Success is turning a budget deficit into a surplus, uncovering the essence of why an organization is distinct, or building a website that better serves the users’ needs. When I am able to do that – to shape the world by analyzing, synthesizing, and clarifying ideas and information – I really love my job.
Why do you love yours?
What Being a Designer Means