A Designer’s Carol: An Early Christmas Story

A Designer’s Carol is my attempt to synthesize the writings of seven design thinkers into a narrative comic strip. I will not be present for a live presentation of tonight’s work with my classmates. In planning, I knew I would need to create a narrative where a fellow student could simply press “play”. I recommend watching the video below next, which will make the rest of this post more coherent.

As it turned out, taking the “live” element out of my presentation played to some of my strengths as a storyteller. I was able to mix audio, perform accents, and enlist my fellow students to help. I had a vision and stuck to it. It also clarified the skills I’ve got a long way to improve, including sketching and digital illustration.

There’s serendipity to my absence tonight. I’m joining my sister who’s in town for the Austin premiere of Little Women, a feature length film she directed and co-wrote. It is her directorial debut, and she was fortunate to get a substantial distribution deal, which is rare for a small-budget independent film. Yet, as potential audience increases, so do critics, as does pressure. At AC4D, “You Are Not Your Work” is oft-quoted and useful advice, and it applies here.

I had to create a simple narrative in a 1.5 week span and deal with the critique of 15-20 individuals, while my sister has to manage letting go of 2+ years of work, simultaneously traveling to promote the film, all while hearing thousands of critiques of her work, with no ability to change the original creation.

Designers and artists share this conundrum of creating work with passion and empathy, and then being forced to let it go, potentially dealing with disdain from the audience. It’s difficult emotionally. I was reminded during my small assignment how important being a member of a team helps to create a sense of passion and support during the work. And regardless of the outcome, enlisting a  team makes me eager to jump into the next assignment.