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Designing “Personal”

Do you ever fight to make something less personal in your designs?

There comes a time in any designer’s life when they realize that much of their process in final drafts includes taking out bits here and there, many bits of which are personal. This is an important balance to make, because many times it’s important to be unbiased and to send a message that offers the most potential for a wide audience to resonate with. However, I’ve been thinking about this throughout the semester because most of my work seems to have a personal touch that I find myself fighting to keep or remove. Do we really need to take out as much personality as we think we do? Lukas Graham reminded me of the power of making design personal in his music video for “7 years old”.

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The lyrics themselves have a uniquely personal touch in their specificity. I think where some artists would have stopped, Lukas Graham “goes there” and includes a specific thing that his parents told him when he was young, “when I was 7 years old my momma told me go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely.”

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To take this a step further, Graham uses an on-going cut-out collage for the music video. You see pictures of his actual family and about the story he is telling as it unfolds. The song and lyrics were already immensely powerful to me, but once I saw the music video I felt like I almost knew Graham. It made his song transcend from something an artist wrote to an audience, to something one human being wrote to another.

Making things personal is a line that I intend to cross as much as possible (and as much as appropriate) as a designer. What are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer design that is personal? Or do you think personal design takes away from professionalism?