Designing in Isolation
When I was in the 6th grade, my father and I cofounded an education-technology startup. It’s called KudosWall, and it happens to be a resume builder and portfolio incubator for students — ranging from K-12 to University. Cofounding KudosWall was an integral part of how I became passionate about design, and it was why I consistently made things. (More about this in my previous post)Like many startups, though, KudosWall had a tiny team and, as a result, I happened to be the only designer. Being an only-designer, similar to being an only-child, happens to come with ups and downs. For me, being an only-designer meant I had all the creative freedom in the world (too much if we’re being honest) and every color, button, and field was a personal exploration and opportunity for me to play around. At the same time, being an only-designer meant that iterative design, design critique, and brainstorming were rendered ineffective and rare.
I find myself thinking about only-designer syndrome, if you will, very often now that I am at a preparatory boarding school. My school happens to be highly selective, with an acceptance rate of about 16%, and enrolls talented students from different pockets of the world with passions and interests almost as vast and diverse as the demographics themselves. However, in my time here, I have realized that virtually all of our students connect with other students on the basis of athletic commitment — the influx of crew jargon in the spring is all too indicative of this. What this means for me, a student who finds himself concentrating in the arts and in design, is that I lack the community to share my passions with. Sure, I have a few friends (who I lovingly refer to as design-allies) who will tolerate my long-winded monologues on chairs and fonts, but when it comes to creating things, my community is the art faculty at my school.
Being at SPS, like working at KudosWall, has taught me the importance of self-motivation and designing for myself to get better. For this week’s design project, I started making my own website and an accompanying portfolio by scratch. I think this will be my project for the next few weeks or so. For now, thank you for being my design community, Medium.