After more than 365 days of daily minimalism, the feat seemed monumental enough to stop and reflect upon. The process itself kept me up later than normal, drove me crazy, and humbled me as a designer and after all that, I’m not stopping. Daily minimalism and more generally a daily design operation informs your work and so upon reflection here are five lessons daily design taught me.
You learn by doing.
When you’re designing something everyday you quickly run out of ideas. Designers I know quit after about 13 days on average, because there’s no brief, no money, and no client, nothing but an end of the day deadline. It’s far easier to say forget it and go to bed then stay up and tackle the unknown. What’s worse, you’re quickly stripped of your tricks, forced out of your comfort zone, and your forced to learn, over and over and over again, keep in mind often when you’re deliriously tired. From a technical standpoint I’ve learned how to build fonts, how to (better) use colors, and much more. Had I given up, almost every logo I’ve done in the last eight months would not have been possible. So I learned that a year ago I really didn’t know what I was doing and there’s still a long way to go.
Love the process.
Designers love seeing their work used but we are pretty lazy otherwise. You have to love design, not for money or some prestigious crap, you have to love design because you love designing. I was once told, wait until you’ve found that one thing you love so much that you can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve found it and found as the Eames would say, “Life is work is life is work is life.” You have to love it, you have to live it. Daily design forces you to live it everyday, love it at first or not.
You do the work you want, to get the work you want.
Young designers often can’t figure out how to get clients, fill a portfolio, etc. What you learn is you don’t do personal projects to keep doing the same old thing, or fake work for that matter. You do personal projects to do the work you want to be doing, you’ll end up getting hired to do that type of work fyi. Look at Aaron Draplin, some of his best work was done for himself, his dad, or a buddy for free, that work is as “real” as your snobby peer reviewed portfolio.
Expand your influences.
When you’ve exhausted all of your ideas you have to learn to stretch yourself not only as an artist in your ability but in what you expose yourself to. It’ll continually refresh your ideas and keep you going. So start reading more, listening to new music, studying art, and generally exploring. Here are a handful of the best things I found that heavily influenced my daily work.
- Sleepwalker - Emily King
- Milk - The 1975
- Rose Quartz aka Millenial Pink
- The Lux
- Corn Coast
- The New York Times Modern Love
- A Triumph of Genius by Ronald K. Fierstein
- Endurance by Alfred Lansing
- Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney
- Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
Find good people and work with them.
After a year, I’ve realized one thing maybe more clearly than anything else, a designer is not made alone. Your work gets better with the feedback, ideas, interests, and influence of others. That list of discoveries is made up of recommendations from creatives, they all helped with the year of minimalism in someway, even if they didn’t know it.
If you liked the work I produced or the idea of it I encourage you to try Michael Bierut’s 100 Days of Design.
You can view all 365 days on Instagram @Nathan_Dawdy