Discovering Who I Am as A Designer (or Seriously, You'll Never Be a Hipster, OK?)


"Wait? What? I'll never be a hipster, minimalist designer? But I've been trying for so long!" My obviously-smarter self says back, "Sorry, babe. It's time to give up the ghost. Trust me on this one, ok? Now, let's move on, shall we?"

Seeing as you are not currently in my packed little head, you might be wondering what the hell a "hipster, minimalist designer" is to begin with. First of all, I do not use this term in a derogatory manner. Quite the opposite actually: I love super cool, minimal design. I drool over super cool, minimal design. I long to be a designer who creates super cool, spare and reserved design.

I wish I had the aloof, vibe that is the hallmark of the super cool, minimalist designer. Were I one, I would design one-color (preferably black) logos paired with black-and-white photos or muted colored graphics with loads and loads of white space. My designs would say to the world, "Here you go, world. I don't need anything more than the barest of bare minimum to get my message across. Now, back the eff off, ok?"

But, you see, there's one very large problem. I am not a hipster minimalist. I am not a super cool reserved dude or dudette. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one has ever said of me, "You know that Kimi? She is one cool chic." Feisty - maybe. Intense - definitely. Cute - possibly. Funny - I really hope so. But never cool.

Which, at this point in the game, is no longer a problem for me. At almost my 5th decade on this planet, I am at peace with my decidedly uncool self - all 5 feet/105 pounds of opinion and feeling and beliefs and energy and goofiness.  

I am finally, after all of this time, truly into who I am and often enjoy the shit out of myself, much to the horror of my twin tween daughters. But I wasn't for a very long time. 

My former business partner is much, much hipper and cooler than I am. She has long, straight blonde hair and is tall and uber reserved. You can't tell what she's feeling or thinking if your life depended on it. But she's also really funny and insightful when you get to know her. She just doesn't spew herself all over the place for everyone to experience. She also has incredible, minimal style and always looks really, really cool. 

Her design style reflects this, and while I was her partner (for almost 8 years), I pretty much wanted to be her and design like her a lot of the time.

Now, however, after a year of working and designing by myself and sitting in my office in my decidedly uncool athleisure wear, I'm finally coming to love my own style and to want to design only like myself. 

Previously, I would sit down and try to design something restrained and spare that quietly tells its story but still gets it across really well. Instead, though, what came out was bursting with color and exuberance and sitting on the edge of its seat, desperately wanting to tell you something, loudly and with a lot of feeling and passion in its voice, by the way. 

Finally, I see this and am ok with it, and I actually love what I've been working on lately. Which is good, because it's my rebrand.

You heard me. I'm rebranding after only a year in business, because back when I created my first brand only a short time ago, I was still trying to be something I wasn't, and what I created for my business reflected that. I was still trying to be cool and reserved, but, looking back on what I designed (this website, for instance), it's clear to me that it's not even remotely representative of who I am.

So I'm rebranding with the complete awareness that I might never design cool hipster one-color logos for craft beer brewers or beenie sellers or coffee shops where dudes with beards and skinny jeans ride up on their single speeds or fixies (is this even still a thing in the cycling world?).

It doesn't mean I can only do loud and bold design or can't change my style to meet a client's needs. Designers are not often designing for themselves, and if you're working for clients, you have to be able to adapt your style to your clients' needs. But the truth is that the guy who owns that coffee shop with the fixies outside is probably not going to look at my work and think, "Ooh. She's my gal." 

The folks who love color and bold shapes - those folks are the ones who will show up at my door. Truthfully, since I started my design career at a color- and pattern-packed little stationery company called iota, this all makes a good bit of sense, and I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to figure it out. All in our own time, right?

So, while I will always love minimalist, spare, hip design, it's simply not what comes naturally to me as a designer. And I love bold color and shapes just as much. In fact, it makes me really happy to see bright and energetic graphic design. And that's what I do best, so I'm going to run with that and try to stay really, really true to who I am in my work and every other aspect of my life.

Much love and color to everyone who reads this and even those who don't.

By the way, more about my rebrand to come. It's big! New business name, new look, new everything, and the launch date is May 1. I'll keep you posted!