If there’s one perpetual twitter discussion that always winds me up, it’s the one about well known “celebrity” web designers*. It usually stems from someone complaining about “seeing the same old faces at conferences” and then some of the more well known designers sometimes reply by saying they’re just trying to do a job well, and being known for that is a by product. Every few weeks it flares up, as regular as clockwork. You could set your watch by it, if your watch had a every-few-weeks hand.
There’s then a bit of a storm in a teacup, and someone usually says something like “we shouldn’t be putting people on a pedestal” and then everyone goes back to posting their lunch on instagram.
But the thing with celeb web designers is that we actually need some. Proper ones. Let’s face it, the closest a normal person gets to seeing web design taking place is when it’s set as a challenge on the Apprentice. And you could argue that being bossed about by some halfwits, and then staying up all night to pander to their whims isn’t the best depiction of what we do, even though sometimes that may be painfully realistic.
In fact we whinge and moan about how regular people perceive us and our work, often lumping clients in with that too. As funny as this can be, it’s mostly down to a lack of understanding about what we do. So if there were to be more prominent designers in more mainstream circles, leading thought and discussion about design, wouldn’t that help serve to address that?
What we could do with is some, dare I say it, household names. People who the press and media can go to for comment and insight. There’s frequently web and digital news stories on the tv, but rarely is a designer involved. We always talk about how important digital design is, and how it should stand up with other forms of design – so why can’t we have our own James Dyson, Terence Conran or Damien Hurst?
*quick clarification – I think “Celebrity” is the wrong word, especially these days when being a celeb doesn’t necessarily require much talent, but for whatever reason, that’s always the phrase that gets bandied about. I guess what we’re after is along the lines of whatever the people on Dragon’s Den are – well known, but still can deliver the goods and are pretty well respected in their fields.