A leading figure from the broadcast design industry recently suggested that ‘designers should think of themselves as prostitutes, not artists’. How accurate is this assessment in your personal experience?
Designers are neither prostitutes nor artists. They never should be. Designers are commercial communicators – that’s what makes them very different from artists. Artists create intensely personal work for themselves. Designers create solutions for other people and help solve problems that many will benefit from. If you work as a designer, but you wish you were an artist, then, yes, you are prostituting yourself. If you work in broadcast design, but wish you were a comedian, then, yes, you are prostituting yourself. Always stick to what you know best.
Marksteen Adamson, Partner, Arthur Steen Horne Adamson
Why? They’re neither, as far as I’m concerned. As soon as people realise that design serves a mutual benefit between popular culture and business, we’ll all be better off. I just wish people would embrace commercial opportunities, rather than walking around thinking they’re misunderstood and therefore being screwed over all the time.
Luke Williamson, Creative director, WCRS
It’s a difficult choice. While designers seek to satisfy their customers, we often give them what they need, rather than what they desire. You could also argue that a prostitute has to be something of an artist to break down inhibitions and take a punter to new heights.
John Harvey, Founder, Din Associates
Are you calling me a whore? OK, the oldest profession in the world that sells itself for coins – that sounds like broadcast media. What’s your pleasure? But design does have the artistic development. Wasn’t Jesus a carpenter? I’d rather carve wood to flog, than flog my carved…
Simon Waterfall, Creative director, Poke
Design involves at least two people, just like sex. You listen to your client’s wants, anxieties, preferences and needs. You respond and create a mutally satisfying dialogue. What is bad in this? Artists can work wholly alone. I would rephrase it: ‘Designers should think of themselves as lovers, not as masturbators’.
Quentin Newark, Creative director, Atelier Works