Rebooting the Designer: How to Say Goodbye to Routine and Go to the Next Level


Rebooting the Designer: How to Say Goodbye to Routine and Go to the Next Level

Designers are considered to be creative people who, with digitalized brushes, visualize bursts of their consciousness on the Aimak screen. Probably there are some, but I assure you that every third designer deals with the same type of problems every day and begins to envy the accountant who solves solitaire while simultaneously responding to messages in Odnoklassniki.

Designers rarely work in the same company for more than 3-5 years, and this is all because inside we extol design as a religion, but in fact we draw gray rectangles and try to understand the essence of the customer’s comments. It is draining, primarily emotionally. And a designer without emotions is nobody.

Dreams of doing something outstanding are buried under the onslaught of typical tasks that provoke typical solutions. They certainly work, but they work more for the business than for you.

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Two types of thinking

Michael Mikalko, author of the excellent book Hacking Creativity, believes that there are two types of thinking: reproductive and productive.

Reproductive thinking is based on our experience. That is, when we meet a new problem, we remember how we solved similar problems earlier. For example, creating a simple website, a designer subconsciously understands that he should have a horizontal menu, a large picture, an inscription and a button. According to the author, reproductive thinking contributes to stereotyped thought, which is like death for a designer.

Productive thinking is about finding new ways to solve old problems. Most of the time we think reproductively, and this makes sense as it requires less mental effort. But the fact is that in order to create something new you need to think differently.

Genius requires the creation of a huge number of alternatives and assumptions from which the best is chosen for further work. By choosing productive thinking, you have a chance to create something new.

Novice designers are justifiably kicked for wanting to make beautiful things, and not profitable for the business. And since creative people are vulnerable, we can only complain about the impossibility of showing creative abilities. “The customer is stupid” – this phrase has become a cliché, which it is time to get rid of. Why don’t you become the kind of person who chooses which projects to work on? “How?” – you ask, finding an excuse for lack of time. That’s how.


All of us were once busy with work that hindered the realization of personal ambitions. We thought about how to make more money this month than the previous one, without thinking about the prospects. We took on side projects, spent evenings in front of the monitor for the sake of additional tens of thousands of rubles. If you are doing this now, think about it. Selling your work for hours won’t get you very far. At some point, time will run out, but money will still not be enough. In addition, working around the clock for many months, it is problematic to make several high-quality projects in a row. What is the way out of this? It is possible to increase the value of your hour, but the truth is, money doesn’t motivate designers. It’s cool to buy a new MacBook or iPhone, but it has little effect on the creativity we live in. There is only one thing that inspires us – the fucking job done.

Fantasy is arguably the coolest visual design studio in the world. Several years ago, my friend Georgiy dreamed of working in it, but nothing came of it. A series of bad luck pushed him further and further, until he decided to do something extraordinary.

For four months, Georgy locked himself at home and refused all orders for the ambitious goal of making a complete redesign of Google News. What for? Working with customers does not allow the designer to give all the best. You get a bunch of edits, run into a platform problem, spend your evenings in bars, and only then get creative. A personal project gives you the opportunity to focus on pure creativity.

Georgy’s many months of work resulted in proposals from Google, Microsoft and Fantasy. And George is not the only example. A year later, AIC employee Artem Troinoy, working on evenings and weekends for three months, completed a similar project – the redesign of The New York Times, which allowed him to find a job in Amsterdam. Another example is Pavel Shumakov, who won the design competition and is currently working in London.

It may seem that these people are different. The level of their creativity is space and you just have to wait with an open mouth for their next project, moving the logo a pixel to the right and a little lower. But this is not true. They were, like everyone else, moving logos, repainting icons, until they decided on something big.

Are you ready to devote a few months to a fictional project without a guarantee of success? After all, this is illogical, but these are the actions that make ordinary people outstanding. The founder of Apple put it very well: “Everything that you call life was created by people who were not smarter than you.” This proves once again that it’s not about talent or luck. It’s just what you do.

Three factors of reboot

Your reboot as a designer should be three things.

A task

It should not only be, but also inspire. It is not easy to complete such a project without creative motivation. Elon Musk is motivated by two things: caffeine and the ability to send a person to Mars. Likewise, you should be motivated not only by imagined success, but also by the desire to make a cool project. The very best of your career.


You will have to face the ideal customer, from whom there will be no edits and strange wishes. Someone has been dreaming about this all their lives, but you have the opportunity to get such a customer today. The main thing is not to play too much.

With no budget or deadline, it’s easy to relax, give up and stay as ordinary as before. Therefore, there must be a time frame.


It’s not enough to create a cool interface. It is necessary that people also know about this. A quality presentation is half the battle, so take it seriously. Tell us about the work process, add photos of the work process.

And one more thing …

Think about the fact that at this moment, while you are reading these lines, some designer is engaged in a fictitious project, with no guarantee of success, but with the ambition to realize it and do what he never did, but believed he could. Who is more likely to succeed in this case?

Each of us can become extraordinary. You just need to break out of the routine and do something new, unusual. Something that motivates and is able to get out of bed an hour earlier. You will never have a guarantee of success, but the fact is that only by trying we can hope for it.

As Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right anyway.”


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