Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Artists' Conceit

I am a professional graphic designer - a concept man, if you will. I think in colors and textures, mood and feel, words and composition. I've been doing this longer than most of my clients have been in business, and this experience has developed in me a strong sense of what works and what doesn't. Most of the clients actually appreciate the fact that I occasionally say "no" to ideas that just don't fit or are patently wrong for them. Frequently, I will take the initiative and "tweak" provided artwork for clients, knowing that it will ultimately give them what they want - even if it's not what they specifically requested. My employer has even coined a term and sells it as a service to our clients. She tells them that I'll "Keith-erize" their artwork for them. They pay me to make them look good, and that's what she knows I'll do - sometimes dragging them kicking and screaming all the way, until at last they finally see the end-product and the realization of what they really wanted all along.

I call it artists' conceit ... and I wince every time I do so. It's the sense of believing that I know better than the client what they really want. Personal ego really has no place in serving others, and tends to lock us designers into a single design style, regardless of the application. As a Christian, I recognize my talents as God-given that I might serve His purposes. This helps to keep me grounded, particularly when people praise my work. Creativity is just one of the aspects of being created in the image of God, and to create is to enjoy a form of communion - a new bond through a common interest, like a child sharing a hobby with his father. And just like that child, the first attempts always look rough and unsteady until the Father leans over to gently guide the child's hands and make the work smooth.

As part of my morning prayers, I have a daily entreaty: "Not me, Lord - but You through me." I have been blessed over the years with the ability to serve my clients with a consistantly high level of design work to which they have become accustomed. Fortunately, that service has never been uncomfortable ... until now.

Out of the blue, two clients in two days have come to me asking for me to create and maintain websites for them, based on the printwork I've designed. True, I have created websites, and in the past have even maintained an entire online catalog for a client - but frankly, my level of expertise in web-design leaves me thinking that "expertise" was a poor choice of words. It is rudimentary, at best, and I honestly don't believe that I can deliver websites anywhere on par with the level of design of my printwork. At the same time, the timing of the requests makes me wonder if I'm being led down this path, as part of serving a higher purpose - or learning the more salient lesson: my discomfort is a product of my own ego - my fear that I won't be able to earn the praise to which I've become accustomed ...

"Not me, Lord - but You through me."


Blogger Dianne said...

Interesting that you've noticed what may lie beneath your initial, immediate reaction to the requests. I think that shows a lot! I hope you are able to make the right decision. I know that your desire to allow God to work through you will be honored.

April 12, 2005  
Blogger Richard said...

You must defeat your ego.

April 15, 2005  

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