As 2014 draws to an end, we’re taking the time to reflect on the year that was. The Sex, Drugs and Helvetica blog unleashed its maiden article on the public seven months ago and by gum there were some doozys posted over the months that followed. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to jump on the media-outlets-pumping-out-end-of-year-lists bandwagon, the Sex, Drugs & Helvetica team share their favourite 2014 blog posts with you.
Andy – F*ck Font Talk, Andrew Ashton
This article was a dose of lethal tonic. Rebuking an earlier article (Five Typefaces That Never Let You Down), Andrew looked at the greater implications of designers’ obsession with being relevant and on trend. He suggested that, intimated with the influx of online inspiration, we have resorted to mindless imitation at the expense of developing a unique and diverse practice that is appropriate to our cultural context. We have lost our obscure, possibly our relevance. Andrew posed the important question, “How can we transform creative expression from a fashionable business mode back to a creative expression?”. When we’re bombarded with a sea of “best free fonts” and “top typefaces” articles, Andrew reminds us to question whether this constant font talk is going to help our ideas and thoughts develop as a designer.
Cat – Five Ways to Beat Design Burnout, Andy Murray
For me, the thing that brings this article to the forefront is its honesty. Andy touches on an issue that is both incredibly relatable and incredibly important to discuss. Everyone goes through design burnout – the crazy deadlines, the stress, the anxiety, trying to meet unrealistic expectations enforced by either an unhealthy workplace or your own ambitions. But, for some reason, no one talks about it. The way Andy discusses it is wonderfully helpful. It provides simple, well-rounded, considered solutions to a problem that, when you’re engulfed in it, seems overwhelming, irrational and larger than life. Plus that “Anything you ever make” vs “War and Peace” illustration – mmhmmm.
Leisha – LIVE BLOG: Sex, Drugs & Helvetica 2014, Sex, Drugs & Helvetica
Despite planning and knowing exactly what was happening on stage, I actually had no idea what was happening on stage. The small details of the conference had taken over my day and I found it difficult to see the bigger picture. Having a play-by-play from a different point of view was incredibly helpful. A few weeks later, I re-read this post and finally got a chance to reflect on the conference – a conference that we’d spent a year preparing for. As a company, we tend to be modest, probably to a fault, and we often forget to acknowledge accomplishments. This post gave me a chance to step back and appreciate the conference as a whole. And it serves as an ongoing reminder that Andy’s suit was perfection.
Nick – Replication or Inspiration?, Dominic Hofstede
I loved hearing Dom reinforce looking for inspiration outside of design books and blogs. With tight client deadlines and budgets it can be hard to ensure you “craft original and meaningful outcomes” but Dom pointed out that it’s our responsibility as designers to “develop methods to minimise replication”. Not every project you do over your career will be bursting with groundbreaking originality, but if we strive to do our best, there isn’t anything more we can ask. And, of course, it never hurts to be reminded that most of us are not Picassos or Pooles. Being a creative professional is tough, even for the best of us.
Zac – How to Create a Timeless Brand, Chris Maclean
Companies like Apple and Nike whose brands respond and fluidly adapt to cultural change have always fascinated me. Chris’ article offered great advice on how to create a brand that would remain current, whether it’s 2014, 2024 or 2064. His brand/person analogy was spot on. Like a person, a brand has a core personality, but what they look like, and how they sound, changes with culture. Chris points out that brand identity designers should actively create and structure a brand with the knowledge that it will be changed by another designer. A reminder that designers should make brand evolution natural, not just possible. Did I mention Chris’ idea of allocating different lifespans to different design elements. Design biology!
Image by Magdalena Ksiezak