One of my deepest, darkest, most cliche aspirations is to be a writer as well as a designer—and I don’t think I’m alone in my desire to have it all.
There’s something in the abstract nature of words that acts as a great equalizer—we’re surrounded by texts daily, quietly sponging up gorgeous words and ideas. That’s no small reason for your average mom of four or bank accountant to find their creative escape in writing.
I’m consistently intrigued by great writers who did not spend most of their days as writers. WC Williams, for example, one of my favorite poets. To me, his poems are painfully American, and painfully great. While he caroused with the best artists and writers of the time on his days off, he was a doctor by profession.
Listen to ol’ WC read ‘To Elsie’ here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15538
It’s not a far jump to wonder, why isn’t design like writing? People don’t say, “I’d like to be a designer. I think I have at least one good website in me.” Perhaps the answer is literacy. While in the past the written word was a bourgeois pastime, it’s pretty much expected that everyone you see on the average street in a modern American city probably knows how to read.
Could/should/will we ever teach our kids design literacy? Is design such an elite and hard to grasp skill that this education would just bankrupt the next generation as they spend their first paycheck on a set of Eames chairs? I think not—if the rise of sites such as 99 Designs and Deviant Art are any indicator, the visual revolution is already here.