It's been almost two solid years since I started working and learning how to do the grown-up thing. Contrary to most of my peers coming out of school I went straight for the corporate position and jumped into a work environment that was completely foreign to me. It was foreign not only because I live in Sweden now, but also for other reasons inherent in being new to the job market. New social practices, new corporate culture, an unexpectedly different take on what I thought my first job after design school would be, and - in many ways - a huge step backwards into normalcy largely thanks to the prior four years in design and fine arts. Let me tell you, it's just as weird being in collectively enforced conformity as it is in collectively enforced nonconformity. Either way, you have to conform.
I don't really have anything specific to say but felt the need to write after coming to the realization that somewhere along the way I lost my voice as a designer. These past few days have produced something akin to a philosophical, existential discussion inside my head. I immediately felt the need to write - to speak - to tell a story. But I don't have a story yet.
All I have for now is a flow of words, a stream of consciousness borne out of a need to express, verbalize, communicate, deconstruct, debate, connect.
For a brief moment tonight I became sad, and I became scared, that almost two years had gone by and I had not grown as a designer. I thought that I had not pursued the edges of my comfort boundaries and excitedly stepped outside of my base of knowledge in order to create and solve design (ie. physical object) problems.
But I'm not overly worried. Time flies when you're having fun, and I certainly am having tons of it everyday. Thinking back on the last 22 months I've done exactly what I should have been doing: pursue the edges of my comfort boundaries, dive out of bounds of what I know, and find creative ways to solve complex and sometimes quite abstract problems.
Three questions come to mind that help to structure tonight's gut check:
Am I working as a designer? - No.
Do I work and think like one? - Most certainly, I do. My skillsets have been augmented and improved, with the only exception perhaps to my sketching and finesse with shop tools and big machines. Otherwise I approach everyday armed with a designer's skillset toolbox.
Do I miss being more involved in design? ... - Yes and no.
Yes I miss being more involved in design, because I am now involved in so many aspects of the entire product lifecycle that I don't get into the nitty gritty creative practice of design as a craft.
At the same time I do not miss it, because I'm learning so much and taking more responsibility on today that keeps my life challenging, My job motivates me to jump in head first into the complexity of management and continuously adapt and translate my skills to the broader context of product development.
Gut: checked. Carry on.