Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Design Community

Design doesn’t happen in a vacuum but in a changing world where ideas are continually growing and expanding. As an independent designer you don’t always have people to bounce ideas off of or brainstorm with. You need to find a community you can tap into, to use, to gain ideas from, put ideas into. With the internet there are many places you can tap into and groups you can tap into.

The first online design community I joined was the HOW forums. Two years ago I went to the HOW Design Conference in Atlanta. It was incredible. Thousands of designers all in one place sharing ideas, the love of fonts, paper and printing. I met many designers and made a few key connections. These connections have inspired me and helped me to get my independent design company off the ground.

The second community I have joined is the Freelance Switch forums. I came across their podcast, Freelance Radio, a couple years ago and really appreciated the information they share on it. After listening to the podcast I checked out their site. They have tons of great information on it for designers and clients who want to understand the design industry.

The third community is Twitter. Yes, the social networking conversation. Twitter is one of the strangest communities but depending on who you follow and who follows you, you can learn all kinds of neat things. Many people who I follow share links to some very cool sites. Everyday someone shares something new or shares some of their work that inspires.

Forums and sites like these also help to inform non-designers about what designers do and the best practices when dealing with creatives. It also helps them to understand the back-end of design and the thought process involved in the creation of a product.

Because of these forums I have started to connect with other designers in my town and have started to build relationships with them to share ideas. Having a group of designers you can bounce ideas off of and collaborate with helps you stay up with the latest ideas,technologies and trends. It gives you design team, of sorts, that can help you get out of a rut or push your ideas to the next level.

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