Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day 5/5/2009

Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day 5/5/2009

It’s that time again, Groundhog Day Resolutions Review Day. I happen to be on the tropical island of Taiwan at the moment, attending numerous family functions related to the passing of my grandmother and 80th birthday of my father. The return to Taiwan, a place that I have associated with intellectual captivity from the ages of 9 to 18, is proving to be an excellent backdrop to my thoughts about the future. In short: it’s not as bad as I remember it, and I’m seeing the island from a more mature and empowered perspective.

There’s a lot to like about this place: great food, an incredibly dynamic society, lower cost of living (if you know how to live like the average Taiwanese), and an increasingly international atmosphere. It’s a lot different from the 1980s. I’m even starting to think that I could finally learn the language, armed with the investigative techniques that I have developed over the years.

where we are now

While I’m feeling positive overall, my ongoing resolution to develop creative and financial independence has been causing a small amount of restlessness. As I said in the 4/4/2009 review, my resolutions are based around the following:

To write about what catches my eye, create that which illuminates, and through these actions build financial independence.

The actual method of following-through with this I had left to “selling products that tickle my fancy”, the current incarnation being the preprinted pads I’d started selling experimentally a couple of years ago. I don’t have any idea whether it’s viable as a product over the long run, but certainly the very act of trying creates opportunities that are yet unseen. So long as I don’t lose money on this, I’m probably going to be OK. When I return to the United States in mid-May, I plan to get back on this project and really make it happen. Ever since I was in the 4th grade, I’ve wanted to print stuff and distribute it; I used to buy sheets of carbon paper when I was a kid and make forms in triplicate, because I was so enthralled with the idea of creating multiple impressions from a single action. In a way, this is the reason why I also like computer programming: write once, distribute forever. The idea of putting something out there in the world that is real and tangible is one that I just find innately exciting.

where we’re going

In the meantime, there are certain realities I’ve got to face. First and foremost, I’ve just come off a year-long project, and it’s time to drum up some new business. I’m rusty at the new business development side of things, and so it’s time to start talking to people and letting them know I’m again available. However, in the context of Groundhog Day Resolutions, I should be focused on drumming up the right kind of business. This goes beyond hawking my market-ready skills in the analysis, visual design, and interactive development realms. What’s more important to me is the KIND of projects and clients I best work with.However, I also need to eat, so I can’t afford to be too picky about my projects. The compromise: be as clear as possible what kind of projects have been a historical “good fit”. It’s time for some marketing communication.

And so, I’ve been writing out several lists to help define my main points. Here’s my rough list:

  • Practitioner Types: visual designer, investigative designer, interactive designer
  • Universal Skills: pattern recognition, analysis, ideation, explanation, documentation
  • Trade Skills: Flash/Director development, UI Design, Information Architecture, Information Graphic Design, Digital Media Production, Copywriting
  • Special Emphasis: Story as major design element, workflow and process improvement, productivity and empowerment, cross-discipline thinking, novel approaches to change perspectives
  • Personal Qualities: Likes 1-to-1 relationships. Likes work that affects people on the individual empowerment level, not faceless corporations.
  • Ideal Projects for Hire: Start with a question or desire, discover and develop a hypothetical process, create an implementation strategy, create artifacts.
  • Ideal Areas of Endeavor: To start, PCEO forms, stationery, concept and product designs, software utilities
  • Qualities of Work: informational, insightful, expressed through functional design, imbued with aesthetic and functional quality.
  • Interested Businesses: software companies, advertising agencies, educational material developers, museums

I’m at the point now where I’m stare at these lists a lot to figure out which points need to be explicitly communicated and which points can be conveyed indirectly. My best guess: be a universal designer with a transparent process built upon three core ideas:

  • storytelling as a driving design element
  • the use of investigative reconstruction in the discovery phase of the design process.
  • audience-validated scientific creative methodology

These are all ideas that I’ve touched on over the past four years; it’s time to stand firm and establish the foundation of my “designer identity”.

I’ve been chasing this for a looong time, and now that I’m free to starve to death on the open market, I’m feeling especially motivated to get moving. :-)

So that’s the emphasis for the month of May. We’ll touch base again on June 6 to see how it went. If you have posted your own Groundhog Day Resolution Review for today, please feel free to leave a comment with a link back to your entry; it would be cool to have an informal group review!