I recently participated in a discussion entitled, “What makes you different from all the other designers?” Many of us were eager to jump in, but after awhile the answers started to sound the same:
My process is unique.
I work hard and develop creative solutions.
I involve my clients as much as possible.
One designer challenged us to come up with something really bold and different. To which I replied, “I refuse to eat mayonnaise for any reason.” Lucky for me, no clients have ever required this of me. Although, one day, when I worked at an ad agency, a co-worker came into my office, handed me a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and said, “I need this container for a mock-up. How fast can you eat it?” Not only did I eagerly oblige, I sat at my desk thinking, “I have the best job in the world!”
To this day, I’m not sure what I’d do if I had lunch with a new client and pasta salad was the only menu item.
Designers are an eccentric bunch of people. We thrive in a profession that requires creativity and efficiency, beauty and order, rhyme with reason. Such juxtaposition can certainly lend itself to personality quirks. Since we work in a creative field, most clients will find unusual personal traits endearing and refreshing. I once met a new client after dying my hair blue. I don’t know if the blue hair swayed them one way or the other, except I did get the project and they’ve worked with me on several projects since.
Some designers may tone down their quirks in misguided attempts to increase their professionalism. Perhaps a polished façade reflects their polished end product. Surely, suppressing our strange qualities gives our clients a sense of stability, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
That is, as long as mayonnaise is not involved.