Inspiration and doubt

April 10th, 2014, 1pm

When I took this photo on the first day of TypoSF design conference, I was not in the most positive of spaces (hence the “doubt” in the title). I’ve been in a bit of a funk design-wise and the thought of two days looking at really talented designers didn’t seem terribly appealing. Seeing a diverse group of designers and approaches in a short amount of time can help energize you or it can serve as a stark contrast to your own practice. I was leaning toward the latter camp. As the conference progressed and the exhortations to “do what you love” piled up I only got more skeptical.

First, let’s recognize that even having the choice to “do what you love” is an incredibly privileged position. This is a choice you have when you aren’t worried about basic survival and live in a society where carving out your own path is possible. But seeing how I’m not currently concerned with basic survival and live where I live, I have to admit that this is a choice that is available to me. Of course, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s easy. What all the speakers fail to mention is that they are the few who took that chance and succeeded. That’s why they’re the ones up on stage. I’m relatively certain that the number of people who did what they loved and failed with disastrous consequence outnumber those who have succeeded. Unlike the speakers, I’m a bit risk adverse so, in the end, I admire them for what they have done and I feel badly for not taking more risks myself. Am I squandering my privileged position by not taking the risk? Or is doing something you love (that doesn’t implicitly help other people) an egocentric act? Like I said, I’m conflicted about all of this.

Ultimately, I have to thank the final speaker, Aaron Draplin, for bringing me around and putting it all in perspective. Design isn’t digging ditches and I feel badly that I’m complaining about it. I am very lucky to do what I do. Now I just have to figure out the balance between risk and security. That should be easy.

Christine said thanks.

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Michael Silva

a somewhat undisciplined existence.

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