Concepts: A Manifesto

Often times, people in the design world are afraid of using the C-word. I’m calling it the C-word because, for some reason unknown to me, people are afraid of saying it. The C-word or concept is the big idea behind the visual; it’s what will make your campaign win and what will make you stand out of the crowd, if well executed. The concept is what sets us professionals apart and makes “other designers feel like idiots because that idea wasn’t theirs.” – Frank Chimero.

I pay close attention to both local and national work, and often times I find myself looking for concepts that don’t seem to be present. In other words, everyone is plating very beautiful dishes, but they are lacking in taste. This seems to be a recurring problem with the design industry nowadays. It seems that, regardless of your location, professional designers are not setting the bar high enough. Then, you have the industry’s parasites (people who own a computer with a cheap version of Photoshop) that call themselves designers and do cheap work. Don’t get me wrong, some of them can do pretty things, too. But how are you going to stand out for the crowd?

“Practice safe design: Use a concept.” – Petrula Vrontikis

We are designers. Our job is solely to communicate an idea either by shocking people, interacting with them or making them laugh. We are in a post-post modern society and now more than ever, the meaning is more important than the visual because everyone can learn how to use a program, but not everyone can come up with a butt-kicking idea. I think Jeffrey Veen’s quote “Math is easy, design is hard” says this perfectly.

My manifesto when it comes to concepts is this:

Make mistakes on purpose, turn things upside down, set things on fire, draw imperfections, make it dirty, use unorthodox materials, take blurry photos and experiment. It’s all about innovation and what your idea is bringing new to the society because it’s very likely that 99% of the ideas you will come up with have already been done, so it’s up to you to improve it. By improving your idea, you will make it unique. However, keep in mind, the Internet easily allows us to spot plagiarists & parasites. On the other hand, it also allows us to absorb other people’s ideas – just always use it with caution.

I’m looking forward to the new conceptual design wave coming from Europe. It’s already hitting New York, so it’s just a matter of time until it gets here to our village…I mean city. In the meanwhile, keep calm and have a cup of tea.


Written by Marcela Ramos, Interactive & Web Designer