Design View | Articles and opinion on design professionalism, technique and culture by Andy Rutledge

The Boom of Doom

February 3, 2009

The business of doom and gloom is booming these days and there are a lot of doomsayers peddling their wares. If you are paying attention to them you’re doing yourself and your family a grave disservice. If you are going so far as to seek out the doomsayers in their pessimistic publications, you are inviting your own failure and you’re an embarrassment to your generation. In that case you clearly deserve every bit of misfortune that will inevitably befall you; it is only fair. That is how nature works and nature is always fair. The future and viability of your design practice is not determined by where you take it in good times. It is determined by where you take it or where, by giving up, you let it go. Period.

Situations like these favor the prepared. Today one can perceive stark contrast between responsible and irresponsible professionals. Only irresponsible designers are in the habit of observing a situation, perceiving the likely result that circumstances seem to indicate, and resolving toward that likely result while depending on the whims of others to make it right for them. Responsible designers, on the other hand, are in the habit of observing a situation and perceiving the likely result that circumstances seem to indicate, and then looking deeply into the foundations of the circumstances and constraints, imagining creative options to indicated paths, and then purposefully crafting more effective results others might have thought to be impossible. In the hands of a good designer, almost nothing is impossible.

Right now, your design practice is in your hands. How’s that working for you?

Markets, economies, and social circumstances are good for a while and then they’re bad for a while. We are happy for a while and we are sad for a while. We are confident for a while and then not so confident for a while. This is what you signed up for. This is the inevitable cycle of circumstances in life. It has always been so and it ever will be so.

In the face of these inevitably fluctuating circumstances you are only ever defined by how you conduct yourself. If you are daunted in the face of a gloomy outlook, you will be known as timid …because you are. If you are more compromising and tend toward expediency during tough times, you will be known simply as compromising and expedient …because you are. If your standards and values are weak during tough times, you will be known as a person of weak values …because you are. If you resolve to craft a more successful outcome to current circumstances, during good or bad times, you will be known as a skilled and responsible designer …because you are.

I’m not suggesting theory or philosophy to you here. I’m presenting you facts. You are what you define yourself to be every day of the week and during any socioeconomic cycle. You are either swept along by circumstances and look only to others to make things right, or you purposefully respond to life’s circumstances and craft situations of your own design to ensure your vigorous survival; failure and success, respectively. Which are you working on right now?