Exasperation: Process Video

That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Words are plastic. They have different meanings in different contexts. For example, designer gets used as a profession, especially on television, for things I wouldn’t consider “design.” The same applies to the word “art,” it gets thrown around casually when perhaps decoration or picture would be more technically accurate. I understand these instances fill a need in the contexts they are used.

What I don’t understand is when words are used incorrectly in their native contexts by practitioners. I run across “process” videos during my internet adventures and they are using “process” in a graphic design context, but using it colloquially not the professionally. Graphic design process is a super specific thing. In a graphic design context “process” is not plastic. If your video does not show exploration or refinements it is not a design process video. If your video only shows going from a sketch to a finished logo that is not the design process. That is a “how I use illustrator” video. That usage of “process” is popular not professional. If it is actually design process, show the messy bits. Show us 50 sketches that fail. Show us a true design process. If it is accurate, and you don’t experiment or fail, if your first idea is the only idea, then you are appropriating the word. Perhaps “execution” or “procedure” are better choices, any synonym that isn’t predefined within the discipline.

I may seem overly picayune and pedantic, but I think it matters. Details matter. It hurts the profession. The value of graphic design is the process. We charge for the process. When you aggressively misrepresent its value you are undermining not only your own ability to generate income but the profession at large.

This is why we can’t have nice things. One thing will not destroy the profession, but graphic design is already often misunderstood and undervalued. No single reason accounts for this. It is cumulative. It is a death by a thousand cuts. Misusing words are self-inflicted wounds. This one is easy to avoid. Just use the right word. If practicing professionals are not rigorous and consistent with terminology who will be? All our terms will end up like “design thinking,” overused and misused to the point of being powerless.



What are exasperations? Exasperations are rants of a sort. Everyone makes mistakes. We all overlook things, we are not always thorough or thoughtful. That’s not what these exasperations are about. I am not concerned with judging any one person. My concern is these individual errors become group errors. When bad habits become common practice. When wrong thinking becomes common thinking. Exasperations area response to when those individual peccadilloes become tropes: institutionalized, adopted or ignored.