We are often frustrated by journalists who write about our specialties. The things that seem obvious or important to us as specialists are often missing from the coverage of topics we care deeply about. Ever read a review of your favorite movie, or your favorite band? Mostly, it’s not a good experience.
I think about this problem frequently, because it is often the case that my own work is invisible to non-specialists. I design the behavior of systems. How can you see that? How can I show it? It’s a problem I haven’t solved, and one that hurts my bottom line: just take a look at my portfolio. Do you think it does a good job of communicating the work I do? Other types of designers can showcase gorgeous hero shots of sexy product designs. But me? Ecology models, behavior models, wireframes. Not so sexy. Or even so comprehensible.
Traditionally trained designers say that you can’t be a designer if you can’t draw, because visual communication is so important to our field. Well that cuts two ways. On the one hand, that training can develop an unbalanced expertise: a training that promotes visual literacy beyond all else. When that happens, you get conversations like the one at DesignBoom regarding the victor bike: so focused on the visual as to be completely inane. On the other hand, it ignores the work done by designers that work in difficult-to-visualize media. Work done by specialists like me can remain invisible because it is so unconducive to visual representation.
Or maybe I just need to work on my drawing skills 🙂