Living, Breathing & Thinking Good Design

This is basically what I see in my head

Image courtesy of Vassiliki Koutsothanasi

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes those that are the best in their field… the best?

I have. Lots. And as a student of psychology, I am extremely interested in finding what makes the ‘champions’ tick, how they think every day, what do they devote their attentions to and so on.


My Childhood Hero

An example that immediately springs to mind is Bruce Lee. He was someone I very much looked up to as a kid, because of his extreme physical prowess and advanced skill in Martial Arts. I have since collected lots of books by, or about, him and I’m astounded at his philosophical viewpoints and personal psychology. And I have concluded that there is one primary motivating cause behind his physical and Martial Art supremacy.

Bruce Lee lived and breathed Martial Arts.

Every waking moment of his life, especially when he arrived in the US, was devoted to his personal physical, spiritual and skill improvement. He would do crunches whilst watching TV, practise punches when waiting for friends to arrive at a party and perform feats of superhuman physical prowess just to impress and entertain his little baby boy. He took every opportunity he could to improve his Martial Art, his mind and his body.

He didn’t just practise Martial Arts, he was Martial Arts.

And I think that is a key concept to reflect on when thinking about your own field of expertise.

It seems obvious to me, now, that if you want to be the best in your field, then you have to move beyond occasionally dipping your toe in the pool to making your field of expertise the very cornerstone of your existence.

This is something that I have been doing with design in my life, often to the occasional (tolerated) annoyance of close friends and my girlfriend, “Really? We’re trying to choose a delicious meal to eat and you’re sat there analysing the typography of the menu and critiquing the logo!”

In fact, as a personal example, recently I took up Kettlebell exercises as a means to returning to my former physical glory and losing some weight. And as someone who almost obsessively likes to neatly record and categorise events and activities, I started to draw up a spreadsheet, logging when my workouts are and what particular exercises I would be doing.

Except, I didn’t just make a spreadsheet, I designed one.

And it looks like this:

My first month's Kettlebell regime

It's set in Avenir because I don't have Gotham. =D

Rather than just dredging up a spreadsheet in Excel, I took the opportunity to work on some typographical and page layout ideas instead. As a fan of minimalism and the use of clean typography to neatly construct proper hierarchical information, I based the layout on Tschichold’s “golden section”, as well as being primarily influenced by the work of Josef Müller-Brockmann.

Some people may see this as being rather ‘sad’ and I am happy to let them think that way. But personally, if there’s an opportunity to improve my design skills and knowledge, then I’m damn well going to take it because it is something I love with every fibre of my being.


Et Toi?

As a people-person, I would love to hear your tales! Have you been chastised for thinking too much about your passion in daily life? Perhaps you have your kitchen laid out according to the Golden Ratio? Can you identify the Pantone colour of your sofa? Do you recognise, analyse and critique typefaces out in the real world OUT LOUD? Share your stories!

If only to make me look more normal. =D

Ian Cylkowski aka Izo

Logo & Brand Identity Design

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4 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. I must admit, I tend to do that, but not out loud, just in my head. I actually used to say things aloud but I always got weird looks from people.

  2. Sam,

    Very good post! I can completely agree with everything you have said! I am a nightmare! Everywhere I go I am constantly looking at how things are designed. I can’t even eat something without analysing it’s packaing!! Passionate design is the best design! :)