Kick The Paycheck
Oh, we know what you're thinking, "It's hard enough finding a job at all, you ID-Fools, now you want us to drop it while it's hot?". Of course not. We're not advocating communes, homelessness, or parental mooching. But there are a lot of designers out there who's work is stagnating because they do the same routine:
Read RFP. Put together awesome presentation around 5 concepts in direct response to RFP. Meet with client and wow with sketches. They choose concept 4 so you go to engineering drawings and ship it out to be fabricated. Rinse. Repeat.
Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of kids in schools all over the country who, wait for it, don't even know what design is!!!. How many times have you heard a designer tell you "Yeah, I was studying to be an engineer, until I found out about this whole Design thing in college"? Imagine how cool your big brother would be if they told you they designed cars, or toys, or the Swiffer? You might just inspire another generation of little designers. And you don't even need to join a club. Public schools all over the US (and possibly elsewhere?) are losing art programs faster than you can say "artsy fartsy". If you've got a kid, and you even have the slightest clue how to sketch, what's keeping you from asking the teacher for an hour (an hour break for her) to teach a little perspective. Or cardboard chairs. Or have an egg-drop project. Even if you don't have a kid, bring in a portfolio; The teachers shouldn't be hard to convince.
Alright, maybe you're afraid of the young'uns. That's OK. You've got a business, right? Maybe you're not even in design. You can still take some time to do a little design community enrichment. Take, for example, Norcal Waste Systems, a company with possibly the lease appealing job: Garbage. But they weren't down in the dumps about it (pun oh-so-intended). They looked around at what they had and said "we are constantly collecting the most exciting stuff around." Metal scrap, old furniture, paper bales, and loads of packaging. So, rather than just throw it all away, they started an artist in residence program. Artists come and work in their shop with materials recovered from their dumps, and make incredible work like these pieces by Rick Carpenter.
If even that seems like too much commitment, why not just ask? Have you ever seen a restaurant or bookstore that you loved, but had really crummy signage, or an ugly hostess's podium? What if you just made them a new one and surprised them with it? Philanthropy by Design is a similar organization which co-ordinates donations of interior decoration and contracting to non-profit organizations who would normally not get those kinds of services. Or, just check your phonebook or ask around at the office. There are bound to be local agencies like this one in your area just waiting for genius designers like yourself to pop their heads through the door.
So guys, what are you waiting for? You've got the skills, the drive to make things better, and now, maybe an idea or two of how to do it. And of course, it never hurt anyone's business to build a reputation of being a charitable guy. You might be eating your hat on that whole "ID-Fools" comment sooner than you think. Good luck, and may all your balance sheets be negative.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team