Giving Birth to Design

It’s back-to-school time, and I am reflecting on this seasonal change in my life. It got me thinking about the parallels between raising children and the creative work that I do.

Before your child are even born, you have dreams and aspirations for them. You even have an idea of how they might look and what type of personality they might have. You begin making plans for them, even before they have arrived.Baby fingerpainting

    When beginning a design, I think about the client, the purpose of the design, and how to accomplish the goal. I think about whether the item will be mailed or printed, and where it will appear on the internet. I consider what colors or images would best suit the design. I envision the end product.

    I start designing. I often get input from my brother and fellow graphic designer, Ed Gumnick. I research and sketch, on paper or electronically, to get a better idea of what solution might work best. Ed helps me decide which direction my design should take and the best way to “get there.”

Similarly, as a parent, I often turn to friends who have children the same age as mine. We discuss, compare, complain, and often find that we are encountering the same type of child-rearing challenges. By collaborating, we are better able to see the many possible solutions and approaches.

    When the document/design is finalized we send it off to the printer. We do this by preparing the files and uploading them to an FTP server remotely. This is always a leap of faith—that the files we have carefully prepared arrive safely and translate into the intended design. Seldom, but occasionally, we will get a call that there is a problem with our file. There might be a missing font, or perhaps we have neglected to attach an image. Or maybe the printer is having a technical problem and the process is delayed.

And…as all parents know, we do occasionally get a call. A call from the school nurse, a call from the teacher, a call from jail (okay, we haven’t had this one yet.) Then, we spring into action, doing everything we can to make sure we do what is best for our child (and we also know this sometimes means doing nothing and living with that decision.)

    When the design is complete (printed or posted or mailed), we send it out into the world, hoping that it serves its purpose and doesn’t end up in the recycling bin too soon! We know it is attractive (after all, it is OUR child) and are confident that it will be successful. But we have to eventually let go, knowing that we did our best to create something beautiful and meaningful.

I think you know where this is going…in the same way, we send our children out into the world, to succeed and make a difference in this world. We launch them and know we have done our best to help them be happy and succeed. And when they do succeed we know that all the planning, all the work, all the struggles were worth it—our life’s work is rich and fulfilling.

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