Graphic Designer – Torn Between His Fears and Creativity!
The kind of fear which I shall tackle in this article is an every day feeling or phenomenon. Fear is a totally human reaction and feeling disregarding man’s age, looks, nerves, muscles or how bold he/she is. From the psychological point of view, fear is defined as one of the basic senses or emotions that man feels. However, it may accompany anger, pleasure, grieve, or sadness. Generally speaking, fear is associated with those emotions emanating from real tangible or intangible dangers. But, it stands in the opposite side with concern or yearning, which are normally resulting from a surprise, threat, danger of whatsoever.
Fear may appear when a man is exposed to an embarrassing or humiliating situation, or when watching others undergoing such fear themselves, or when receiving some horrific news. Frequency or long exposure to fear may lead a man to a state of lack of balance, especially when a man resists his fatigue, emotional setbacks, agitation, the organic changes he is undergoing resulting from the nervous apparatus, like increased rate of adrenaline, abnormal cardiac beats, which are all accompanied by excessive sweating, dry mouth and other symptoms. But, this is not the case at all. The case is, how can the graphic designer face this fear ? How can her control such fear in a positive way? How can he succeed to make use of his fears in a creative way?
This phenomenon is widely known among graphic designers regardless of their professionalism, but it hits it utmost levels among graphic design students. However, it takes a special form when it is brought to the work with all its problems. It stems from two main sources: Insufficiency of the student, and the expanding gap between what he has learned and the market demands. The other case is the inconsistency between the student and his co-workers, i.e. lack of a language of communication between the two. Insufficient knowledge of the task of the graphic designer, would also create an awkward situation to the designer himself and would lead him to frustration and tension.
Like other creative men, a graphic designer needs to live a unique state of creativity by which he can reach the climax by producing a complete work which realizes the long aimed hopes. Living such a state would require him to bring out a design, which is a simple and direct visual means of communication that penetrates deeply into the conception of the receiver.
But, where can this case be ?
How does the concept evolve ?
How can the graphic designer reach to a state of both creativity and invention? Both states mainly rely on the ability of the designer to overcome the state of confusion and uncertainty, which usually starts with the initial steps of concepts evolution. Afterwards, such state would gradually develop and turn to fear. It is quite essential that the designer should overcome his fears by overlooking this state, which the fear might reach.
To overcome this barrier, the designer should have three main things:
1- Self-awareness ,
2- Self-acceptance, and
These conditions and perquisites can help the designer maintain his ideas, and the tools of executing them. On owning such conditions, the designer will be able to utilize and employ his personal potentialities, and be open to creative and artistic ideas and experiences. They would enable him to explore the truth, and to be responsible in his feelings, behaviors and practices. These main aspects would form an ideal setting to encourage the designer to work either alone or within a team, with a positive effect and outcomes which will guide him towards creativity.
However, creativity, or lets say “creative thinking”, and problem-solving skills largely depend upon the designer’s ability to organize and classify his information, and extract the important and useful pieces of information. To realize this, he should be acquainted with the required work, his environment, the message he intends to deliver, and the means to execute his ideas. All these would grant him a kind of self-protection and defense to his ideas. He would always be strong to break down his confusion and fear.
When would fear & creativity be created?
Both professional and non-professional designers have their shares in these feelings, no matter where they are or how old they are. It is a quite common phenomenon among workers if this creative field. But, graphic designers would reflect these feelings quite differently from the others. They work with high sense of professionalism and efficiency to convey a certain message to a certain audience, to present a certain service or a product in an attractive and distinctive way. Naturally, it is not necessary that the graphic designer has a belief in what he is creating; instead, he should employ his ideas or deigns to satisfy the desires of the client.
Here comes fear and concern. The good graphic designer may wish to realize perfection in his pieces of arts, by introducing a simple and good idea, a unique theme, unused before, and implementing it in a different way using distinctive techniques. We believe that these are the conditions of any creative work on invention, and they reflect the personality of the inventor himself, and therefore they should contribute to create a state of fear or concern which may lead to some kind of imbalance, they would identify the designer’s potentialities intuition and intelligence in overcoming this ordeal.
We must not ignore the correlation between graphic design and the different aspects of life, i.e. cultural, economic, political, social and other, which keep forcing themselves upon the designer. It would necessitate that he become informative and educated in various aspects of life. This would be a vital requisite in any advertising or media equation. The graphic design has become one of the most significant industries today. It is closely related to information technology and computer sciences. Moreover, a graphic designer is measured by his ability to speaking the Era’s language fluently!
Therefore, we realize that the task if the graphic designer whether he was a student or a worker is very difficult, because it requires a great deal of reading, development, competency, personal abilities, and technical skills. It is not enough that the graphic designer knows how to use the design programs, or software, simply because now every one can master them so easily, but he should be able to develop his techniques and qualifications, just like the driver. Still, the most important thing of all is the ability to create and idea and implementing it. This is and integral part of creativity and which would finally contribute to realize higher expectations. The most creative, informative, conscious, and knowledgeable graphic designers are those who can completely controls their fears and concerns. When a graphic designer reaches that level, he would be so mature and most capable of completing the work even if he was under pressure and would reach creativity at the end.
Unfortunately, fear and concern are a wide spread phenomena among higher studies students of graphic design or designers who explore the labor market. Academically, the state of confusion which the student or the employee undergo is but a part of the fear which the academic plan would create, or the method adopted by the executers of this plan or that. It is also attributed to the absence of accurate specialization among people of graphic design, absence of correct understanding to the identity of the designer to be made, multiple producing bodies of this cadre, lack of a clear strategy to gather all these people and identify the components of the producer (or the type of designer) and the wrong mix between knowledge of computer and concept of graphic design.
People working in the graphic design are living this fear, concern and confusion, and what complicates the matter is the absence of the real criteria of the graphic designers, that is accepted in this realm. Moreover, what add to this problem are the lack of taste among the clients and their ignorance of the role played by the designer, the chaos and disorganization in the market, and the mixing between the academic and the non-academic graphic designer.
However, due to the limited scope of this paper, it wont be proper to address this subject elaborately. I will explore it in another paper.
How to identify the sate of fear among the graphic designers ?
There is some kind of integration between the hidden personality and behaviors of the graphic designer, and what he doesn’t want anyone to about him. Therefore, we are looking for a designer who is a real leader, and who can control his hidden shadow, giving the fact that this shadow is a strong and powerful personality currying a large suitcase, he know what is there inside it, he knows as what he takes out of it, and he knows as well what he can put inside. He should be able not to waste the first part of his life filling that suitcase with things, and wasting the other half emptying the same suitcase ! This is what actually reflects a huge instability, insecurity, and a struggle with the first half of his life.. or just accept it the way it is and try to deal with the other half. !
Designer’s shadow is the mask that he wears to hide many facts.. trying to choose a mask which suits the world he is searching for to gain the acceptance or help.
Indeed, we admit that the designer is like any one else, he also has weaknesses and strengths. The other mask which the designer may wear id the strength factor. It reflects his physical, conceptual, social, economic stability, and which we consider the major components for success and creativity. Doubtless to say that fear helps to intensify a state of physical, psychological and conceptual depression which leads to negative results, especially if the designer does not possess the components to absorb the shock, contain the consequences, correct the matters, and to direct them in a way he deems appropriate.
Here, we are not calling for facing fear, but, we call the designer for learning some tricks to contain fear and to terminate it by encouraging hi to identify the objectives and find means to realize them, identifying his own potentialities, upgrading his talents and qualification by increasing his knowledge, experiences, practice and training to realize some kind of physical and psychological comfort. In addition to that, belief in ones abilities and self-encouragement is a kind of an intellectual and mental sport, and some of the main tools that would enable the designer to overcome his fears. Knowledge is an indispensable requisite and nourishment to the mind and soul with useful information in addition to the physical sport would all contribute to face fears, promote one’s experiences and self-confidence.
Fears and creativity: Opposite Powers
Whenever there is fear, there will be stagnation, strangling one’s abilities and willingness to stat far from moving forward, preventing any attempts to resurrect once again with richer production, and would lead to seclusion and
to a paralyzed life, empty of vigor and ambition.
And whenever you see creativity, you find pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, balance, stability, strong-will and above all, challenge.
Now, lets take a closer look to these expression, how did they change and develop, when we tackle fear and creativity. This is similar to asking two little children to draw a picture. One would reject the idea, maybe out of fearing that others might mock at him, while the other is bashful, chaotic, he would take the brush and colors and draws what jumps to his mind uncaring of what others think about his work. This is called challenge. One is challenging to overcome his fears, rejection, failure and as a way of change & innovation.
Creativity is a symbol of life changing. It is a motivation to overcome a feeling of threat of anything that is new, even if was produced out of change. It is a motivation to develop the ability, strengthen the willingness and call for innovation and transformation in both public and personal life. Leaders, businessmen and graphic designers would not become great, successful, and creative if they wouldn’t become innovative and moving forward in firm steps towards adventure and prosperity.
How can you defeat your fears? It is by seeing things as they are in reality, trying to accept them, believing in them, and endeavoring to look at them with different perspectiveH try to handle them in a completely untraditional, way, especially when you embark on building a concept, implement it, and adapt with your surrounding because deep in your heard you know that unusual, untraditional things would make a creative designer of yourself. Hence, creativity is having a designer doing anything without fear, the fear from rejection or failure, and from losing control, and be open to everything that is exceptional and different.
Creativity is a deep belief in that every form of difference or change is a positive state more than a negative one. Because there is a stat of change.. Because there is an ability to see extraordinary things, to find a different and untraditional answer to every question, and the ability to create and to execute an idea, and tackle it in a very unique and unprecedented way.
That’s why we say that fear and creativity are two opposite powers. One of them is confined on itself and vanishes, and the other grows and persist, bringing to the researcher dozens of questions which help him to reach to better results, with a very traditional thinking which thinks in the present and in the future in a different perspective, that is armed with the tendency to innovation, and admiration and interest in everything that is different and unique.
Graphic Design Students are the most fearful segments !
The only thing that we should fear is FEAR itself!
Fearful designers claim that time; concern, fatigue, evaluation and scores are the major barriers in their creativity. For, lack of time, abundance of homework and deadlines result in fatigue, concern, and agitation. In addition to lack of self-confidence, fear of failure, concern of evaluation results and teacher’s opinion all contribute to increase their fear.
Let’s put it like this:
Time + fatigue & stress + evaluation = FEAR
Now, how to solve this peoblem ?
How can we deal with it ?
What is the responsibilities of both the teacher and the student ?
Are they both parties to this issue ?
Are they really the reason behind this state of fear ?
In my opinion, I think that fear for both parties, should complement the process of creativity. Fear cannot protect, BUT it should be eased, and decreased so that I won’t lead to unbearable state of confusion. Lack of sufficient tine should not become a source of agitation to the student. He must be convinced that many ideas may trigger in few seconds, and the remaining time should thus be devoted to executing these ideas and deliver them to the client. Until the delivery time, the student may have more than a ten thousands of opportunities to develop his idea and this is an infinite fact regardless of the nature the homework or work that is required from him/her because the student should have a great control, for postponement of work is his enemy. He should start doing his assignment as soon as he is assign to do it. In this way, he will be able to solve and explain all problems that may encounter him. By adopting this strategy, he will be able to arrange his physical and the mental efforts in a sequential manner that would not lead to any fatigue. It will also enable him/her to surpass all the surprises and unexpected inconveniences, by soundly organizing his time and consider each minute as a time of completion.
The first stem to breakdown the barrier of fear is the assistance that the teacher gives to the student, by overcoming the problem, discussing the ideas and establishing a mature and common dialogue in order not to reach the state of agitation which, in turn, would lead to fatigue, inability to create and idea and implement it.
Perhaps most teachers face such condition, and some cannot diagnose them or know how to treat them, and some others don’t really know if they are existed at all, and thus, cannot treat them once they emerge.
The remedy is simple… enhance your self-confidence, be informative by gathering information and learn from others’ experiences, try and try hard should become your motto in order to build a bridge between the idea and its application.
I believe that fear which is the student may encounter, compels the teacher to follow it up, and handles it efficiently. The teacher must realize that the factors of success depend largely on his way of handling this matter, by stimulating the elements of power and self-confidence inside each one of his students. But, this cannot be realized if the teacher lacks the knowledge and information about graphic design, from the technical point of view. The academic ability of the teacher, his magnitude of knowledge, and his efficient way of delivering this knowledge to his students without any confusion, would ultimately promotes the psychological stability of the student, and would stimulate his potentialities towards creativity and perfection. We have a deep belief in the fact that the creative teacher is a source of inspiration for his students, he can make them work without any stress or fatigue. If the students find that his teacher is creative and innovative, or if he feels that his teacher believes in him and in his potentialities, the student would exert all efforts necessary to overcome any problem and would search for innovative ideas. This can be realized by developing a mature dialogue and communication between the student and his teacher.
However, state of fear that the student undergoes is only a part of a state he shares with his teacher, regardless of the student’s level when he was permitted into this specialization. I know many students whose performance is weak or below the required level, have made great efforts to prove themselves to be innovated and creative. This is reflected in the variation of their ideas and methods of implantation. The main reason is simply that they succeeded to regain their self-confidence and believe in themselves by acquiring knowledge through which they were able to overcome the state of fear, concern and confusion, which usually lead to stagnation and inactivity.
I had the honor to supervise the graduation projects of a 17 of my students, who all differ in their conceptual, informative and technical styles and levels. I closely explored their levels of thinking and stages of development through out the years of study in the faculty. I was a good reader for all their projects and papers. My plan was to implant the self-confidence first inside each one of them, then I try to make them understand that committing a mistake is not a crime, and idea may seem very primitive and immature at the start, but it will grow and develop step by step. I encouraged the collective dialogue when discussing their projects. I encouraged teamwork, to stay away from selfishness and fear from each others until I succeeded to make them realize the psychological comfort.
The result was quite obvious during the completion of the graduation works /projects. They all succeeded over themselves, even those with humble potentialities and performance. They amazed us, as teachers, because they succeeded to learn from each others, to exchange experiences through the team work. They used to adopt the same idea but differed in the techniques of implementing it. They did that with efficacy and a great deal of maturity. They all explored the labor market without fear or hesitation, armed with their deep knowledge, dubious work, self-confidence and the ability to work under pressure and stress. Thus, it was easy for them to occupy their natural positions in the market.
To make this experiences a successful one, I had to transmigrate seventeen of characters, which vary in thoughts, and this required a tremendous ability to initiate some kind of dialogue with each one of them to break the barrier of fear, develop and improve and direct their ideas in order to develop a strategy for the required job with all its associations and annexes. I had to work with then with quite a temper and logic to reach a result which if anybody else, different from them, tried his/her best to realize a kind of job that conforms with the concept and job of a graphic designer, will fail even if he was using same idea and same strategy.
When judgments were given when the experiment proved its success, students, especially those who do not believe in their personal potentiality, said “we were born brand-new!”. They were good example to the students who followed them. I was able to make them realize and believe that fear cannot paralyze our thinking and creativity, and the human being can always overcome any barriers or hurdles to realize creativity and be innovative.
But how can break this fear?
To be creative and a logical his ways to build and implement an idea, the designer should break the barrier of fear. To realize this condition, we found that there are certain skills and principles that should be practiced and acquired first. Now, what does the graphic designer need ? He needs:
Acquisition of experience is an integral and essential party of creativity. However, the graphic designer should be open to his environment and feelings, same as the athlete or the physician, both should rely upon their rich background which can provide them with new and guaranteed solutions.
A designer cannot gain the experience unless he learns. Learning helps the individual to retain information and increase his/her self-confidence. Absence of learning would only lead the designer to concern about any coming work, as a new experience or technique. Discontinued learning makes the designer feel that he is disgraceful, ineffective and unable compared to others.
Experience also requires some brave stands from breaching values and standards. But, to be able to handle this situation properly, the designer should have a deep and strong belief in himself, because he sometimes thinks that he has nothing to do with working on a certain theme that falls outside the circle or search theme to which the designer belongs. By adopting this stand, he will be able to abide by the mechanism of search, investigation and calculation in many issues that his position would require dealing with. He should not close his mind, consciousness and state of creativity in him, and should induce his personal experience, along with experiences of others, without any exaggeration, into a rational assessment.
The total submission to rationality may drive the designer to reject the correctional thinking, which entails a collapse in the meanings and thoughts, and ignore the sound utilization of intuition, as a source of exploration, and this will, at the end kills the state of creativity because of that fear.
Some graphic designers may deceive themselves by not reading their actions or the results of their actions, and more, they rejecting any recognition of others’ contributions, because of their feelings of inability to compete, and reject both, in principle. Realism is a significant component of a successful designer. To know the meaning of “realism”, he must first realize the components of himself, respect to others, no matter how simple their experiences are , try to avoid arrogance and self-deception, and endeavor to deal with others on the basis of mutual benefit. Self-awareness may also help the individual to speak himself, to express what is inside him, and by this he can kill his fears. Otherwise, he will be suffering from lack of communication with himself or with his work, uncertain of his potentialities, fears criticism and encounter with the audience.
If he reaches to this point, it will be difficult for him to come up with new ideas, a matter which will affect his thinking and which will yield immature or naïve ideas, in return, due to the lack of proper reactions, which are nourished by experience and knowledge. Thus, the designer must insist on his rights, try to acquire skills of correction continuously to determine the shape of a certain case or work, whether creative, innovative, distinctive, productive, subjective or objective, genuine or imitated. Correction helps the designer to continue or to end his state of productivity and creativity.
Self-awareness may also help the designer to have a deep belief in his work and performance, deepens his self-confidence, and increase his confidence in his work, a matter which will enhance his image before others, or vis avis.
What choices the graphic designer have?
Ca creativity generates from fear?
The designer is always advised to encounter the dragon lying inside him, before he is able to overcome his artistic fears and concerns. He should not think of what he should do depending on his ability or inability, but depending on the message or a piece of information he intends to convey to the audience, using the image and words which reflect his amount of knowledge and experiences.
In other words, the designer should put his thoughts directly on paper, close his eyes, use the pencil and start doing some primary shapes and lines.. then he examines them closely, examines his inner mind. Am sure he will find something there.. Something, that will lead him to the right path. This is but a simple example of a way any graphic designer may adopt to reach to his inner should and mind. It is a way to reach to a state of creative work. The designer should look at things closely and should have the courage to do that, and must try to judge in a very rational, realistic, and absolute manner.
But, how can we make choices ?
An individual choice based upon his belief in spirituality ?
The choice to live on earth, which the school that we learn from ?
In respect of the above, the graphic designer is facing two paths:
Either to face the end of the spectrum, or
There factors help the designer to enhance his abilities to monitor, observe, follow-up, and get the knowledge before implementation, and enhance his courage which controls every choice he makes. All these contribute to help the designer take the right decision/choice after recognizing his state, concern or fears, because both are used frequently and mutually. But, still, they cannot be considered one case. Fear is associated with a certain objective, which the designer can contribute effectively and bravely to face various conflicting factors/forces as “ego”, fear, or knowledge. It will help him to realize that he is not alone, God is with him, and by this, his spirituality will enhance and enable him to overcome his fears. Neutrality is difficult to be adopted, in fact, it is rejected, because facing rationality is a requisite that accepts no neutrality.
Concern realize no aims.. in concern, the graphic designer will have no results because there is nothing to focus on. The danger of concern lies in the fact that it will lead to absence of being, and to a state of unbearable exaggeration, lack of identity and desertion.
The successful designer is the one who can walk in the dark, confident of his steps.. His self-confidence and self awareness will lead him to the light at the end of the tunnel, and will guide him to step on the untrodden and forbidden ground, his feelings and emotions, knowledge in the law of nature, belief in work as a pleasure, suffering m learning, desire, another experience leading him to success. He must realize that what he thinks of is his creativity and what he leaves behind is an impression on others, and try to win their acceptance and appreciation to his work, and know how they describe it, as distinctive and extraordinary!
In brief, the designer has one choice only, that is : realization of creativity through concern and fear about :
Not being described as creative.
Non-acceptance of his work by the audience.
Not understanding the idea properly.
Not searching enough in the idea and method of implementation.
Not using the right technique, because he does not master it.
Fear should not become a barrier to mature designers, who are aware of the requirements of their work. Their experience, search and techniques are all considered supporting factors, which contribute to enhance their self-confidence, and their ability to overcome their fears and confusion.
The choices of the designer make are but an extension to an experience he had during his periods of study or at work, or maybe both. However, both need a certain mechanism, which should be, undertakes by the academic or the professional staff embracing the designer. This mechanism needs a specific strategy to break the fears of the designer during the training courses, upgrade his abilities, competency and culture to lead him to a higher level of self-dependency and ability to handle matters in his professional life, and to confront the new and surprising innovations.