We want more writing, it doesn't have to be critical, it doesn't have to be long-format, it just needs to be thoughtful.
Today, March 31st marks the end of Chris Shiflett‘s Ideas of March, his call to action for blog revival that he started a year ago. As an advocate for longer-form posts, he wrote, “Most conversation has moved from blogs to Twitter, and although Twitter is more active than blogs ever were, there are fewer quality conversations and debates taking place as a result of this transition. I’m hoping that you’ll join me in a blog revival.”
We’d like to take this opportunity to expand on one of our principles, which is simply: Write more.
Design is one of the fastest growing professions, with estimates of up to two-thousand graduate and undergraduate graphic design programs in the United States alone—yet we only hear from a handful of voices regularly. We read and write often about design’s emerging influence on business, science, and education. The designers that take on influential roles should share their perspectives, however writing should not be reserved just for those that have experienced some degree of success. We should hear from graduate students, small-practice owners, illustrators, web designers, and developers, and we should foster platforms to share these perspectives.
We want designers to have a perspective and make it known. Not just in 140 characters, or on the comment forum of blog. We should take the time to think about what it is that we make, why we make it, and say something with our work. We should put something out there that is educational, inspiring, and critical as necessary.
We hear the same gripe over and over again about design and graphic design in particular: that it’s insular. Often we are talking, writing, and making design for designers. You may ask, isn’t that what Kern and Burn is doing? You’re talking about design, to designers, and your target audience is designers. Yes, you’re right. But the goal is larger. The products, brands, and businesses that our contributors have created inspire and change immediate communities, and sometimes the world. Even products that are seemingly “fashion items” — like the axes from Best Made, have a greater goal and that is to inspire a spirit of optimism. The best products change our lives in a positive way and the people and the products that we’re talking about fit that mold. It may still be insular but it’s a step. The reason that we are creating an online source for these stories, interviews, and essays is so that others can learn from those who have been successful in order to gain their own perspective and make meaningful work. We are creating a book so that the discourse lives offline, reaches the hands or more people, and has a greater impact. We want to encourage our readers to become the next owners and founders.
And we want to encourage discourse because we believe it’s important for designers to step back from their work and share their perspectives with the design community. In doing so, we (the design community at large) can better understand the why of design now—the design thinking, the creative process, and the context.
When we started Kern and Burn one of our main goals was to see if we could challenge designers to write more. We wondered how we could rethink comments, and asked ourselves, “If people received likes, followers, and fans based on their writing, would more designers share their perspectives?”
It’s an interesting question, and one that we have yet to address…but it’s still in the back of our minds as we think about how we can grow Kern and Burn into a place where readers can come to share their thoughts. Writing is tricky because it’s far more personal than a portfolio piece or finished product. You can detach yourself from a piece of your work more so than your thoughts. So, we love what Trent Walton had to say on his blog about respecting other’s writing. He said, “There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal—you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for an idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming and gracious when you host, and kind and respectful when visiting.”
We believe that we should definitely take every idea with room for debate, that’s the whole point of presenting multiple perspectives—so that you can take what you want from them and form your own opinion. We shouldn’t just absorb our mentors or heroes ideas. But, we should be respectful when others put their ideas out there.
Basically, we want more writing, it doesn’t have to be critical, it doesn’t have to be long-format, it just needs to be thoughtful. If we can inspire more designers to do that, or at least to read it, then we’re giving back in a way that hopefully gets designers excited about design entrepreneurship and the opportunities available to them today.
By gathering dialogue we encourage more.