Be Good. Make Design Work For Someone Else.

by Randy Johnson

It happens to all of us. As designers, we become so immersed in the needs and voices of our clients, that we often overlook our own.

We can all identify issues that are important to us as individuals, but often times we forget that we have the ability to do something to make ourselves heard. Don’t stop when you feel the fire. Instead, take it to the next step by completing a personal design project for an issue that you feel passionately about. Designers have specialized skills that can be leveraged to create positive change, generate awareness and ultimately make a significant impact on those issues closest to our hearts. Bonus, for many the opportunity to engage on a project of social merit broadens our portfolio of work, and reinvigorates our creative spirit.

If you feel passionately about something, approach it like a design project. Develop a unique message. Choose the audience where your message will have the greatest impact, then develop the tone and form that will most effectively and creatively resonate with that group. For example: Will strategically placing posters around town (legally) do the trick, or will social media be a more appropriate platform? Will face-to-face interaction with a leave behind work best, or will a combination of mediums most effectively get your idea out? Small or large goals, the options and possibilities are limited only to your time, interest and resources.

Once your project is realized and ready for the world to see; promote, promote, promote. Generate excitement by sharing your idea and goals with friends, family, co-workers, heck, even strangers! People will feed off of your energy and may even volunteer to help your cause (spread the word, pass out materials). If your project is a printed piece, social media can still be a useful promotional tool. Create a Fan Page on Facebook, Tweet about your project on Twitter, or invite your followers/inner circle to view it on the Behance Network. By gaining support from people in different geographic locations, your message will have more reach. The larger your following, the more significant your results.

When it comes down to it, the combination of love and passion is what the personal design project is all about. We all dig creating—combine that with personal influences, empathy, and awareness and you just might make some magic. In our industry design is the universal component, passion derives from the individual. With thought, creativity, elbow grease, and a bit of good luck, your design skills may even change someone’s life. Positively impacting others, while promoting the value of design, can be a life-changing experience for the creator as well.

Be Good. C’mon is a personal project developed with the goal encouraging everyday kindness. Its about the small things… the things that we all have the ability to do. Buy the person behind you a coffee. Crack a smile. Hold a door. Help carry those bags. Encourage someone. Offer to share. Invite the outcast. Little kindnesses.

To get my message out, I just hit the streets and passed out the materials that I designed and produced. No target audience, I just wanted to reach out to people that I came into contact with—and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Images courtesy of Randy Johnson

Quick Tips
1. Deciding the subject of a personal design project shouldn’t be tedious. Once the interest has been established, let the idea and content flow naturally. An organic approach, opposed to a forced approach, will produce more effective results. When true passion exists, it’s evident in the project’s outcome.

2. While there are a number of cost free options for online distribution, your project may be most effective in print form. If that is the case, one option is to fund it yourself, and another option is to tap into resources/relationships that you already have. Persuade your friend with the screen-printing press to help out, or see if a print shop will be willing to sponsor the project. The support that people are willing to give may be surprising.

Dig Deeper!
1. See what the designers behind designative are doing to make a difference.

2. Check out an inspiring project from advertising agency, Point to Point.

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