How designers can use philosophical thinking to create meaning.

An individual climbing a set if infinite stairs looking for the meaning of life.
An individual climbing a set if infinite stairs looking for the meaning of life.
Getty Images | Pict Rider

Whether studying psychology for user experience or learning programming for web development, designers are always acquiring new skills and perspectives to improve our careers and personal growth. To interpret the meaning of life and discover who we are as individuals, the study of philosophy strives to best answer these questions. As it relates to design, applying the philosophical thinking of Existentialism has various useful and relevant applications. And beyond its practicality, this mindset can inspire a profound comprehension of how design communicates ideas through human nature’s fundamental constructs.

Existentialism is a form of intellectual inquiry that explores human existence and…


How strategy and psychology can streamline your design workflow

Chalk board maze
Chalk board maze
Photo by http://www.fotogestoeber.de on Getty Images

Seldom are graphic designers provided sufficient time to do their jobs properly. This unfortunate truth is the result of a misunderstood and simplistic perception of what we do. In many cases, people regard designers as illustrators or PowerPoint wizards. And while some truth exists in those stereotypes, the best way to describe us is as problem solvers.

Graphic designers are frequently tasked with making the impossible possible and having to do so in a compressed time frame. This demand is why we must use strategic thinking and simple human psychology to complete deliverables more efficiently.

1. Avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome

The first method graphic designers…


How design has a more meaningful role to play in the evolving digital landscape

Robot and butterfly
Robot and butterfly

Last year I wrote an article titled The Death of Graphic Design. I still stand by what I wrote, that traditional graphic design is not as vital as it once was. Recently, however, I’ve had an opportunity to gain more knowledge and insight into the area of digital marketing. This experience has provided me with a more precise prediction of the future and evolution of graphic design.

A notable challenge of being a creative professional in the business world has always been proving the value of good design. …


6 Qualities and Characteristics of Effective Leadership

Successful companies have numerous attributes in common with each other. Great leadership is one of the prevailing characteristics. Not only is this feature a crucial element for long-term business prosperity, but it also contributes to a highly productive and engaging work environment.

The six points below are my attempt to list some of the many characteristics I believe make a great business leader — and in return, a great company.

1. They Are Incredibly Knowledgeable (and Teachable)

A great business leader knows their shit. This knowledge is one of the primary reasons they are the boss or in a leadership position (one would hope).

I’ve always believed…


Get Recognized as a Valuable Business Contributor

As a creative professional, I’m always worried about how my compositions visually look. This expression and concern remain at the core of a designer’s perceived expectations of what they bring to the table. But what if I told you how things look aesthetically are not necessarily what effective designers focus on addressing?

From my professional experience, there is a disconnect between the perceived responsibilities of designers and what we fundamentally do every day. To some, it may seem like we make things look pretty. And other times, we have to be nothing short of mind readers. …


How Learning to Communicate Can Improve Your Career

If there’s one thing I hate most about our day-to-day culture, it’s small talk. I find it fake, pointless, and counterproductive — plus, I’m terrible at it. In general, as you may have surmised, I’m not a people person. Part of the reason I became a graphic designer is because of the solitude.

I’ve always been interested in profound, meaningful conversations about new ideas and abstract thoughts. I‘ll take a philosophical discussion at the water cooler about the ethical implications of eating meat over the dull “how was your weekend” bullshit conversation.

A few years ago, I took a Myers…


The ability to generate creative ideas effectively in a professional setting is a valuable talent. The benefit of which produces innovation and prosperity for businesses and society.

So what goes into developing a better creative mind than the one you have right now?

Creativity is Not Enough

Unlike other skills, there’s no precise recipe for enhancing creativity, such as going to an expensive college or taking a few online classes. The creative mind is something organic, abstract, and unique.

Raw creativity without the enhancement of knowledge generates random ideas. The results of this process lead to unexpected paths and creative dead ends.

Unbound creativity…


Why throwing away all religious belief is a denial of where we come from

I grew up without religion — to be more precise, I had an indirect relationship with it.

My parents went to church most of their early life. My mother is Lutheran, and my Father went to Catholic school. I never spent time in a church or had access to any religious writings or teachings as a child.

My Father resented his religious upbringing. He has been a self-identified Atheist for as long as I can remember. His logical and nihilistic thinking about religion was something I took to heart and accepted as my perspective throughout most of my life.

Recently…


How creative success is more about perception than competence.

Maybe it’s the talent for generating beautiful art or a natural ability to solve problems with original thinking. There are many reasons to admire creative professionals. But for all the benefits of this incredible skill and talent, there are considerable drawbacks.

As a Creative Director, people tend to think my job sounds fantastic. I get to build compositions using my imagination, along with the use of beautiful images, colors, and fonts. And while this sounds like a pretty sweet job, the truth is far more complicated.

A Lack Of Objectivity

The biggest problem in the creative world is the absence of objective truth. What…


The benefits of collaborating with non-designers

I believe we as designers get caught up in what I call the design echo chamber — an environment in which designers encounter opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas by those who are not designers get rejected.

Graphic design professionals function in many ways. Some utilize peer collaboration while others employ emotion. And those, like myself, use logic. All of these approaches are unique to a designer’s personality and thought process — each with advantages and limitations.

One desire we have in common is to create appealing designs. And herein…

Michael Buckley

Design strategist interested in philosophy, psychology, and problem-solving. I write to explore my thoughts and share ideas. Typical INTJ.

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