Play — capital P

Play — capital P


Outside of my day-job at Imprint, I work on a range of other projects which fall into my “Play” category. For example, develop brand identity for our family hot sauce company, design promotional material for our local elementary school and, of course, write the occasional blog post on design and concept ideas such as this one.

Even so, the largest reward I get comes from client work. I do enjoy having a broad range of creative outlets; however, I am not an illustrator, a writer, or an artist. I am a designer, and as such, I recognize the outlet for my primary skill of problem solving does not exist without a client brief. This is the best reward, as it is something that can add true value to a client, product, or situation.

So, why do I (and so many other creatives) invest off-time into something that is not my “real job”? Answer: Play—capital P—is the way that we learn. And, we always need to keep our desire to learn alive.

Bringing Play into daily work
Play — capital P — and client work need not be separate things. Playing with new tools and methods can become part of your process. For example, our team at Imprint is constantly searching for, and experimenting with, alternate ways to do things. Even when a standard tool seems perfect, still try something else. Take risks. This process keeps the team fresh and relevant, both in methods and output. And that benefits clients.

Here’s a short list of why Play is valuable, and what you can do about it:

1. New skills can feed client work
Self-initiated work allows the time and interest to learn new skills that can eventually generate ideas for clients. For example, hearing a talk about building web fonts into your personal site will mean skills that can feed into the next client solution.

2. Play keeps us creative
Creating without fear of failure maintains a freshness and allows experimentation. We want to stay creatively nimble, and produce solutions that keep us leaping forward in our learning.

3. It’s not work anyway
Get real. If you’re a designer, developer, illustrator, writer, or in any way creative, it is Play — capital P — every day. Keep the creative learning alive.

What do you think is important about Play — capital P — in the design process?


Here’s a link to another perspective on this subject:
Paula Scher’s TED talk on “serious play”

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