Amy Crow
Designer / Illustrator / Maker

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Jessica Walsh - AGDA

Jessica Walsh.

Do I really need to say much more.

Held at the State Library of Queensland Walsh’s talk “Play By Your Own Rules” was not so much new content to me as DCA had primed me with James Victores’ diatribe on “serious play” circa 2014. This notion of “play” in the form of doing work that you believe in and thrive on can create a chain reaction of positive energy.

What I had vibed with most was her notes on confidence. We’re not talking just effervescent confidence in a social networking capacity, we’re talking the confidence to fail. I’m very passionate about this topic. I think failure is brilliant and having the guts to just say “fuck it” and try something anyway speaks volumes about a persons attitude.

I’ve been contract working for the past few months out of design school. I guess when I got out I though right, it’s either get a job or do it off your own back. While I don’t think it’s difficult to work for yourself I think it just comes with a unique set of challenges that, for obvious reasons, are not visible when you work for someone else. In this sense I had imagined that it didn’t matter what came through the door you’d do it anyway because you can’t live off dust and air. Something Walsh said really struck a chord with me, she spoke about when they get a new client at Sagmeister & Walsh and they ask themselves a few really important questions. The first one is “can we give it heart?” i.e can they give it the life for it to live on it’s own, can they inject a personality and a soul into this work. The second part of that question is “can we touch peoples hearts?” this might be in the form of an emotional reaction or it could be shock factor and my all time favourite, something that makes someone think. Walsh made a statement that “good things take time”. Yes, it makes perfect sense. This talk really shed some light for me on some of the work I’m doing right now. I’ve been in talks over the last few months about hourly rate vs value proposition and it’s ridiculous. How do you put value on time in a quantifiable and justifiable way? I can’t really say that with clarity right now. But what I have taken from this is, good things take time and that time is invaluable in finding a solution to the clients problem and you can’t trade that time for a quick fix. It doesn’t exist.

What I love about Sagmeister &Walsh’s body of work is that they don’t design for one medium. They design it with a versatility to interact across a lot of mediums. This is smart because branding and identity work on the premise of frequency and consistency. So in my mind if you’re branding and identity can find people on so many platforms that will achieve familiarity and that breeds trust. That trust turns into loyalty and converts to buying power.

Creativity Thrives On Constraints

Something I am still relatively fresh to. I’m a hairdresser by trade and one of the most frequent questions I get some my clients is “what would you do if I said you could do whatever you want with my hair?”. Why they ask this I don’t know. Do they want to know if I want to do their hair the way they say? Do they want me to be outrageous and turn it green? Or do they just want to confirm in their brains that I am in-fact a nut job and my certain brand of creativity is abnormal? God only knows. Truthfully the answer to this question is “no.” I like guidelines. I like rules. I like parameters. Why? Because without them you feel like an astronaut in space who got cut off from the ship and are just floating around waiting to implode. The anxiety is real. How can I possibly know what you want without you guiding me? I probably don’t even know you. I may not even know you if I even had a years worth of hair appointments every 4-6 weeks. Same goes with design. The worst projects I have worked on were nebulous and floaty.

I found it interesting to discover that if Sagmeister & Walsh recieve and open brief from a client they will give themselves rules to work by. This was awesome to see in their branding of “edp”.

“The identity is designed from four simple shapes: a circle, half circle, square and triangle which were layered to create hundreds of logos and illustrations which can combine to tell the story of the EDP brand.”

The rules were:
#1. Energy is dynamic and moveable. The identity has to move.
#2. The identity will be red because every other renewable energy company is green and no one believes green anymore
#3. There will only be four shapes, half circle, circle, square and triangle

It’s a pretty obvious statement to make that your design should be informed by the content but sometimes it just seems too simple! The first rule about energy being dynamic seems too obvious but the application and how they transferred that from a dynamic word mark that exists in many forms to a moving images in TVC format is incredible. It just makes perfect sense.

Another major thing I took away from last night was regarding options. Now I’ve been taught to love options, like really love them to a point of excessiveness. I do feel though that if there are too many options, clients can drown in them and find it near impossible to make a decision. Or the worst scenario, the FrankenLogoType, the amalgamation of four identities to make one massive behemoth logotype. It’s just not right.

If You’re Spoilt For Choice, You Will Spoil Your Choices

I won’t bang on too much more but I will leave on this note. If I don’t ask, I don’t get. Simple. If you want it, go get it, don’t just sit around on your ass waiting for the winged silver spoon of opportunity to gracefully swoop down unto you dowsing you in the milk and honey of an easy life. 

amy crow