The Slings and Arrows of the Designer's Craft

My doctor friend has a theory: People tend to stick with the haircut they had at the moment in time when they felt at the top of their game, when all was right with the world, when they were cool.

Styles may change, and the common opinion about what defines cool may change too, but each of us clings to that haircut. (In fact, even Marge Simpson had to check with her children if the word "cool" was still cool.)

Same can be said for design and designers (or singers!). Once a certain way of composing a piece of work leads to success, the trap is sprung and they're stuck.

It is the very rare artist that can slalom between the demands of the market and the drive for authenticity. In the creative tension between the two, true genius thrives.

To get a glimpse of the process that such designers employ to propel them, check out the archived interviews conducted by designer, researcher, writer and teacher, Ellen Lupton at

Don't miss the free advice page with links to designers who've survived the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the shifting technologies of the designer's craft.

Contributors include Pantagram's Michael Bierut, MIT's Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and, my favorite Russian constructivist, Vladimir Mayakovskii.

Beirut, along with several other designers and critics, has launched a blog, DesignObserver, dedicated to keeping an eye on international design, evolutions in cyberspace, and (his word, not mine) design bullshit.