BoyDog Design
Design and more…

A symptom of Obsessive Design Disorder is the overwhelming sense that you must be in tune with every (and I mean EVERY) design trend, fact, tip, event, etc. In order to accommodate that compulsion I’ve found that I’ve developed a very time consuming and folder filling obsession with online RSS feeds, email, website bookmarking, and pdf conversion of online information that I feel I cannot live without. It started out simply – a mild interest in all of the information that was now available to a designer. Voluminous sources of commentary and tips and tricks are very seductive. The pages entice you with color, art, typography and relevant copy.

It wasn’t long before emails started to pile up and I created folders for each site. RSS feeds start to accumulate and before you know it one folder can have over 5,000 posts. I’ve bookmarked numerous websites. All of them are worthy of my attention. Really, they are… But after a bit you can’t help but forget which sites you’ve added and why. I’ve found some articles so compelling that I routinely convert them to a pdf that goes into a “Reference” folder for future use. The folder is very organized and I have actually gone there for help when I’m stuck trying to use software or need a jumpstart to get the design juices flowing. Having all of these resources is very soothing in one aspect and unfortunately, stressful in another.

I’ve been going through this mass of information lately. Being brave and kulling the items I think I can live without. As long as I have the URL I can always go back and find the information I need. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Let’s be truthful here. Being a designer requires an extraordinary ability to be organized. You have to organize your clients files – keeping track of copy, art, hours, billing, and correspondence. A client you’ve done work for two years ago will contact you for a follow-up on the last project you did for them. Can you find all of the files for that client? Are they the most up-to-date files? Can you step back into those shoes without missing a step and pick up where you left off two years ago? I’m familiar with this scenario and yes, I can do just that. Everything is at my fingertips.

Knowing that resources (all kinds of resources) are vital to your design process can hold many designers back from letting go of files, paper, online info. Ultimately, you reach a tipping point for information consumption and retainment. Once this happens your skills and effectiveness are no longer enhanced by the clutter you refer to as your reference material. The volume of these materials becomes oppressive and stress inducing. It is at this point that you must admit that you have lost the battle. The emails win. The RSS feeds have won. The websites are in charge. You have become an information hoarder. If you have the guts to admit it, it’s time to formulate a battle plan. A plan that will allow you to overcome your obsession while maintaining your ability to source your resources. I’ve started that process today. As painful as it was I hit the delete button many many times today. I will keep the website addresses and continue to receive email and RSS feeds, but I will no longer hang on to every file that comes my way. In a world where one can search online for every sort of minutia I’m sure I will adapt and thrive in my new environment. I finally realize that I am a better designer if I don’t strive to hold on to an every-growing stash of information. From now on resource material will no longer take up space in my head, my computer or my bookcase unless it’s vital and used on a regular basis. Everything else will have to camp out somewhere else and hopefully, when I need it, it will be waiting for me – one click away.

If dust were an art form I’d be right up there with Picasso. I suppose for some of you that’s TMI, and I’m sorry for putting that picture in your head. It’s not a matter of cleanliness actually. I just prefer an old-fashioned broom to a stupid vacuum. Anyway… the time had come to remove some winter dust. Mostly the product of heating with a woodstove. So out the vacuum comes and low and behold – the minute I flicked the switch on the vacuum I instantaneously turned on my brain. 

I suppose you could call it getting in the zone. I’m more inclined to think of it as the result of a brain-numbing activity. Doesn’t matter though. My mind was whirring away with each movement. Once I realized what was happening I figured I’d allow myself to profit from this “state”. So I whipped out a notepad and every idea went down on paper. It was really incredible. 

I’m wondering what other people do that allows them to just think. Is it running? Is it riding in the car? Locking yourself in a room? Just what gets your creative juices flowing?

I had intended to only vacuum my living room. Let’s not go crazy here with the vacuum! My son actually put his hand on my head to make sure I was feeling o.k. But the more I vacuumed the more kicked into gear my head became. The short term result was a spotless house. But more importantly, my long term creative outlook is now filled with wonderful ideas for my blog and all sorts of things I want to try. 

I know I have ODD (Obsessive Design Disorder). I suspect this was a new symptom. But unlike the other times my design mind has taken over, I was safe in knowing that the only thing I was bothering was a little dirt. I suppose I can endure the burden of a perpetually clean house when in return I am the recipient of all the wonderful things it congers up. Note to self: Always have a notepad around when vacuuming.

It happens all the time, well not ALL the time, but enough to be dam uncomfortable. As I indulge myself in everything current in graphic design I find that my brain will sometimes have difficulty handling all the information I’m trying to stuff in there. It’s part of my ODD – Obsessive Design Disorder. Instead of being satisfied with what I know and use on a regular basis, I’m always tempted by the latest software, script, photoshop technique, upgrade, update, device, you name it.

I am reminded of the episode of “Married with Children” when Al was trying to teach Kelly everything she could ever need to know about sports in order to be successful on a game show. At some point she was FULL and from that point on every new trivia item stuffed in her brain resulted in another item being lost forever. 

There are days when I’m trying to multi-task my way to oblivion. I’m working on a project while my mind is half focused on something new that I want to learn or use (usually for that project). There are no hours in that day for me. I only notice the time when my head starts to hurt, I look up from my computer and realize that my day is done along with my mental status. From that moment on all I hear is “wheeby geeby goobledy gook”. My hardrive is full and I need to remove something in order to get my head processing again. At least let it cool down so it’s running at the right speed again.

It doesn’t matter how many times I do this to myself, I know, given the oportunity I’m going to cram as much in my head as possible. It will be interesting to see if any of this helps me down the road as I age. I hear that if you use it you won’t lose it. At the rate I’m going my mental capacity should be exponentially greater when I’m 90 than it is now.

Sometimes I feel like I’m possessed – by DESIGN. I’ll be staring off into space, but I’m not disconnected. I’m staring at a poster, an ad, some combination of colors that I find fascinating, a commercial on t.v., a book cover, magazine article, really, just about anything these days. Let’s face it, we’re confronted by design each and every day. I doubt many of you (unless you’re a designer too) see and feel the nuances of type, color, design as intensely as some of us do.

I will see a commercial on t.v. and think to myself, “I know who did that.” Or I’ll be looking at something as simple as a menu and be fixated on the kerning of the type. I can’t help but scrutinize all things “media” that come my way. At the moment, I’m fascinated with the way media is the catalyst for human behavior.

I hope to bring some of what I observe to your attention in the future. Maybe you’ll see it my way/maybe you won’t. Ah, but that’s the beauty of design. It’s in the eyes of the beholder. What might work on me, will fall flat or be unnoticed by you. Let’s see if we both “get it”…