We all have guilty pleasures: that one movie that we love that we’re ashamed to speak about (The Transformers: The Movie), the song we love but won’t play in front of our family (Eddie Murphy: Party All the Time) or the TV show that you’re a bit too embarrassed to play in front of friends (mine is Fastlane). What about designers? Do we have guilty pleasures like that? Of course we do.
And that’s what I’m here to do: break all of these out into the open. Let our freak flags fly and show the world what we love, no shame involved. This is a judgement-free zone, folks. So let’s dig into things.
And just to prove that there’s no shame in my game, I’m going to do the whole thing using GIFs from the best show ever to star a future vampire, a graduate of Bayside High, and a former MTV VJ, Fastlane.
This might be one of those “Just me?” moments, but I have a real problem with candy, and it comes out typically when I’m designing. A few years ago, I was having these mammoth stomach problems (which turned out to be stress-related), and I thought it might be a gluten intolerance. So out went the white bread and everything else like that, but when my sweet tooth came into play, I wasn’t sure what I could have. After digging around for a bit at a convenience store, I found an option.
(Forgive me for that non-Fastlane related content/)
Yeah, Reese’s Pieces, of all things, have become my heroin. Now that may sound like an extreme comparison, but seriously, I have a problem. And there’s no methadone clinic I can check into for this addiction, I just have to develop self control.
What does this have to do with design? I know a lot of designers, and we all have a sweet tooth. Their level of dedication to eating crap varies, but they all have it. One of them used to keep cotton candy Jelly Belly jelly beans on their desk in a little bowl. Yeah, it’s not the best for your health, for sure. But sometimes you just need a quick hit of sugar to push you past that last vector.
Using a Stock Image with a Watermark
Stock images don’t have to be bad (clearly), but there are times when you have so many options in front of you that you’re not quite sure which one is the right one to use. So in those situations, I sometimes, well, pick all of them.
To get a feel for what works in the design, I’ll sometimes take a screenshot of a low-rez preview of a stock photo (watermark included, naturally) and dump it into my design. I mean, I know it’s not permanent (I wouldn’t steal from an artist like that), but it gives me a feel for how it would look as part of the project. If the photo works, then I’ll buy it and dump it in, no biggie. But I certainly feel guilty for doing it, even though I know that it’s just a placeholder. How much pleasure that gives me is debatable.
Using Common and “Bad” Fonts
As of right now, I’ve got a little over 5,100 fonts in my collection. And if you’re like me, you probably use maybe 100 of them on a regular basis — possibly less. I’ll freely admit that I have lots of fonts to choose from, but I tend to gravitate toward the ones that I like (and sometimes the ones I don’t).
So why is this? Well for me, it’s one of those things where I’m paralyzed by choice. There are just so many good options that I can’t pick just one. Instead, I dive back into my pile of favorite fonts and choose one that works. Is it perfect? Probably not, but it’s something, and I’m willing to be that you do it too.
Art Supply Shopping
I was a Studio Art major my freshman year at the University of Arizona, and my obsession with art supplies has never stopped. I love tools like that; I’ve purchased Palomino Blackwing pencils for both the quality and the romanticism, and I continue to ooh and aah over mammoth collections of colored pencils.
But here’s the thing: I don’t draw. I’m not an artist in the sense that I use a tactile device to create a work of art. I push pixels (and vectors), so that’s kinda it. I just like having these art supplies because … well I’m not sure exactly why, but I want them. Don’t judge me.
I understand that I don’t exactly fit the demo, but I love Pinterest. It’s great for a number of reasons, but when it comes to design, it’s a mammoth resource for ideas and a place to keep them. Back when I ran a magazine, my designer and I had a secret board that we shared. When it came time to redesign the book, we pinned designs in other magazines that inspired us, then commented on each other’s pins so that we could get an idea of what worked and what didn’t. It was immensely valuable during that process, and I’m glad I had it at my disposal.
And yet, it’s still not something I talk about much. I’m not ashamed of it, but whenever I do bring it up in conversation, people look at me like I have a tiny version of Drake dancing on my head. Now that I think about it, that might be kinda cool.
It started with coffee. I’d have some in the morning to get things going, but I hated having coffee breath, and since my office at the time stocked us up with free Red Bull, I made the switch. And now, that’s what I do.
Does it make me more creative? I dunno, but I do feel the need for it on a regular basis. I should probably cut back, but for now, it is what it is.