Why Design Is Not Self-Expression

If we approach a design solution as an opportunity for self-expression, we'll miss the point and risk not solving the problem.

Self-expression is not the purpose of design creation, although the designer’s style and sensibilities will naturally influence their work. Being a designer is a matter of serving others, focusing on their needs and creating for their greatest good.

This approach should be obvious in some design disciplines: transportation, product, packaging and even web design, for example. But it’s not so easily understood in regard to graphic design, and very seldom by students who want to become designers because they like being creative.

Design is a service profession.

As a designer, I create visual communications that help an enterprise succeed. My focus cannot be self-serving and my designs cannot point to me and say, “Hey, look at me!”. Instead, my designs must point to my clients and say, “Hey, look at them!” Although I’m the creator of the design, I step out of the way and allow the client to be the focus.

If we approach a design solution as an opportunity for self-expression, we’ll miss the point and risk not solving the problem. If we don’t solve the problem, we’re not serving the client.

What do you think about design as a service? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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