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Is Everybody Involved in Design an Arrogant Jerk?

Well are they? You decide after reading these emails from a young man in the US.

Dear Editor,

My name is Shaun and I'm a senior in high school in Long Beach, California.

When I graduate from high school I'd like to study design at college and then work in the design industry. The reason I'm writing is that I'm doing a school project on design. I want to make a website that creatively presents quotes from people in the design industry, like industrial designers, clothes designers, architects, artists, writers, etc, and show what made them choose that line of work.

Could you spare a few minutes and let me know what got you into design and what inspires you? I know they sound like pretty simple questions, but I'm hoping that simple questions will encourage people to answer more with their feelings (if that makes any sense). I'm hoping that the quotes I get will not only help me get a good grade, but also help me decide what kind of design job I want!

Thank you in advance, Shaun

P.S. I love your site and the 'Design Words' feature. I hope you don't think I'm stealing your idea!

I wrote back to Shaun, gave him my answers, thanked him for getting in touch and wished him the best of luck with his project. Most people would do the same, wouldn't they? Apparently not. A few days later, I got another mail:

Hi Richard, Thanks a lot for your email. Yours is the first reply I've gotten and it's cheered me up. Is there anyone else you could suggest who you think might help? I haven't got much time left.

Shaun rather sheepishly explained that I was not exactly at the top of his list of people he was seeking quotes from, which came as absolutely no surprise to me, but I found it extraordinary that I was the first to reply. He had started contacting people around seven months before he was due to start his project, which he figured was enough time to give busy people time to jot down a few thoughts. He had tried architects, designers, writers and artists, but told me that since my reply he had only received answers from a couple of designers and architects, a few people who ran design websites (all smaller ones like this) and some design students from the college near his house. He said he had written in the region of five hundred emails. Sadly, this was the last I heard from him:

Hi Richard, I've had to choose another project 'cause I couldn't get enough quotes. Is everybody involved in design an arrogant jerk? I don't mean people like you, but the rest can kiss my ass.

And here's the stinger:

Just out of interest, I got my dad to write a few of the people I'd contacted saying he wanted to either advertise with them or hire them to do some work. Not surprisingly, he got a lot more answers than me. I know money's important, but it made me think that people in design are a bunch of selfish jackasses. When they think they're going to get some money, they reply, but they're too important to help a high school kid.

My new project is about the environment and I've had lots of responses from companies, charities and others who want to encourage kids like me to join their industry, not ignore them and put them off. Thanks again for your help.

Now I'm not trying to make myself out to be some kind of saint here, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth, not least because I've had similar kinds of experiences and I've written about them before. I also don't think that it is confined to the design industry, but that doesn't excuse it. What a shame that people like Shaun could be turned off a career that they were looking forward to because some people couldn't even be bothered to type a quick email.

Comments

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My reply to him. "Suck it up kid. The real world isn't as pretty as Long Beach"
Stay Hungry.

Interesting that he got replies from people involved in environmental projects, but not design.

Question to Masato: Did he contact you? I do hope that 'Suck it up kid' wasn't your reply if he did.

I think Masato Nakada's advice to 'stay hungry' is good - if Shaun really wants to be a designer he should go for it. Surely the fact that he got replies from a few people, including the guys from storm from the east, shows that not everybody in design is a jerk. There are jerks in every walk of life, including people working on environmental projects.

My advice would be to become a designer if that's what he wants to really be and remember this episode, so that he doesn't become an arrogant jerk himself. Just for the record, he didn't contact me and I hope I'm not an arrogant jerk! ;D

Thanks for stirring things up a bit with this, it's a very interesting article. Perhaps some designers are desperately trying to cling to the belief that they're somehow special, hiding behind the mystique of being 'creative'. Being creative, of course, gives you the right to be incredibly smug, doesn't it?

designers ARE VERY arrogant

To answer Stefan's question, I didn't tell him to 'suck it up' since I was never asked. However, I would've replied something in that vein...
I agree with William. If you want to pursue anything, you can't half-ass it. You got to stay hungry and do all that you can to achieve your goals. You will meet assholes in any industry.

Ya right if Shaun really wants to be a designer he should go for it. its all about interest. If he has interest on it than he easily can do it.

Unless I've totally missed the point, the author of the article simply suggests that Shaun MIGHT be turned off a career in design because people he presumably looks up to can't be bothered to spare two minutes (if that) of their time to help him, and I agree. They can, however, reply to his dad when he's offering them money. People like that sound like jerks in my book.

This is not about him 'sucking it up', it's about him being ignored. He may still want to be a designer for all we know. Why not give him some positive advice?

Erm...I'm guessing the comment above is spam...

Anyway, I agree with Stephen. Crappy that he was ignored but his pop got responses when he offered money. My advice to Shaun: do what you want to do but learn from this. Don't turn into one of THEM!

Unfortunately, there are people like that.

Arrogant people even don't know that they are such jerks. They think very good about themselves.

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