It’s something I do that sometimes drives me to a state of madness I must confess. I’m not sure if its intentional but I do think that its appearance in my psyche goes back to my upbringing. “Keeping up with the Jones'” would be a simple way to put it. Bascially it comes down to this. Looking at design annuals depresses me. I’ll admit it. Good thing is I think I know why this is so.
Whenever I get a new design annual in the mail, I look through at the wide array of work that has been lauded as “some of the best” for whatever annual I am looking at: design, illustration, photography, interactive, etc. The work is usually always very good, some outstanding, and some–in my opinion–not worthy of inclusion. The ones I am referring to with regard to not being included would be those that are too simplistic or contrived. In any event, looking through these annuals is something I both loath and love to do.
Seeing what’s out there for someone who is a solo practitioner is enlightening. I get the opportunity to see what work is being done outside my personal and professional “bubble” I inhabit. For me, there is no denying the impact seeing this work has on me. It is good in the sense that I see professional work that pushes the envelope and is taking design in new directions, by the same token I also see work that is completely uninspiring and wonder what the quality of crack was the judges were smoking when they added the piece I am looking at. I must admit overall I enjoy seeing the work.
However, there is a side to seeing this work that I dislike. The side I am reffering to has to do with making comparisons. I see great work and can’t help but compare the work to the work I am doing. Instead of inspiring me, it depresses me. Some people would see the work as casting the gauntlet, raising the bar, setting the new standard, pushing the envelope, taking the idea in a new direction, etc. Anyhow, the very good work in the annuals inevitably has me drawing comparisons to my own work and I somehow see the work I’m doing as a grind. “Nothing too fantastic happening here” I think. Most work, or projects, feel just like that, work. I would imagine that the studios and designers featured in the annuals have their grunt work, their “meat & potatoes,” their “bread & butter” just like the rest of us. They have too. No one is lucky enough to be commissioned to produce nothing but cutting edge work with endless budgets and deadlines long off in the distance.
Sometimes though I do think I have a project worthy of admiration and I really relish the work. In the daily grind I jump from project to project always looking forward to the opportunity to push that one (or sometimes two) special projects along. When the time comes it is oh so enjoyable. Time seems to either stand still or move at a pace like light. In any event those times are a pleasure. OK, so I’ve had my braindump about this for now, time to get back to the work.