July 15th, 2012
On the creation of his @angrypaulrand twitter account:
We moved into Richmond, Va in May and school doesn’t start until August. And we had client work that we were finishing up but we were kind of rid of stuff so we had time to do grad school. And I had 3 months sitting in Richmond which is crazy hot down there and I had nothing to do. And I so I kinda was thinking that would be pretty funny, ya know Angry Paul Rand, I mean HE’S DEAD, he probably won’t sue me, ya know?
I had twitter for a while and didn’t know what to do with it. I figured people didn’t want pictures of my brunch. So I came up with 10 pithy bullshit comments and posted them on Twitter. I did a search for design, and followed absolutely everybody I could. Then it just kinda rolled and you know how social media is these days, stuff just blows up. You can’t plan it. You can’t predict it. It just became A THING.
Then it kinda got too big. Instead of worrying about grad school I was worrying about what my next tweet was gonna be. Which is completely inappropriate and totally not ok.
I know people who knew Paul Rand who approved of what I was doing, and then there were others that thought what I was doing was totally disrespectful and completely inappropriate. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. That’s their problem, not my problem.
It was kinda great. It was kinda fun. Its really cool to have fifteen thousand people pay attention to you. Its a huge ego boost obviously. It got to be a bit distracting, and a little negative for me. People wanted me to be a sarcastic asshole which is kinda fun sometimes. But its not really what I’m about.
It didn’t get old, it just got emotionally unpleasant. Not that I was upset about it or anything. It just got less interesting than it was at the beginning and I decided it was time to call it a day.
I’ve been designing for about 14 years now, so I have a lot of shit to say about it. As does everybody. Everybody’s got an opinion and theres certainly no shortage of attitude in design, graphic design especially. And there’s a lot of stuff that wanted to be said and I said, “What the hell?”
I started out by trying to really channel Paul Rand. I’ve had a lot of professors, I went to RISD and like 70% of the professors there went to Yale and half of them had Paul Rand. So I’ve always had this, Paul Rand isn’t a person, he’s this God-like figure who is beyond mere humanity.
Another influence was Paul Sahre who is also a very witty, sardonic kind of bitter but awesome guy and I lumped it all together. So it started out with me trying to be, I would hesitate to say, historically accurate but to be sort of relatively realistic with it and it really became just me and my opinions.
Since the Twitter account has closed, I’ve gotten the chance to do a lot of writing which you can see at mfa.designcrit.com. It’s the next evolution of the @angrypaulrand account. It’s my critiques on design, design education, what I think about the industry, what I think about design school and the things that I’m personally interested in.
On the subject of teaching students to critique design using objectivity and subjectivity:
I do my best to let my students give everybody a fair shake. But I think time moves on and they become seniors and even grad students, its so completely subjective. I don’t believe that there’s objectivity. I know a lot of people disagree with me on that and I’m outspoken on design as problem solving thing. It’s just not something that I personally do. I’m not saying its incorrect, its just something that I’m not interested in. I think that it IS a personal opinion and it IS how design makes me personally feel. Design is a very emotional and emotive thing. It is not a generic, anybody can do it thing. There is a very deep personal relationship you have with a piece of work. Even if its just a package in a store, theres a reason why people will buy a nine dollar packet of peanuts from Whole Foods instead of a two dollar packet of peanuts from Stop and Shop. Personal opinion is super important. I appreciate that it has to be separated but I do not tell students to try to ignore it and try to be totally generic and objective. I don’t think thats good. It’s very easy to be very mediocre at design. Ya get a laptop and some photoshop and BOOM, you’re a ‘designer.’ But to really get, and I mean to really seriously do it is a very different thing.
On the subject of navigating the design process the longer you’re away from school:
My least favorite phrase in education is, “The Real World.” Like, you’re going to do this in this class, but then there’s, “The Real World.” Well, I think thats bullshit. We’re all in the real world. We’re just not all in the, “Getting Paid to do Work World.” So it is all REAL. Client work is absolutely a different animal than school work, but I do think there is a direct correlation and I think that there should be more of a direct correlation.
Anne and I have been really fortunate that we have been able to work WITH clients and not FOR clients. Not every time with every client, but we try to have relationships with these clients who hire us NOT because we know which button to click in InDesign, but hire us because we know how to get their ideas into visual stuff. Be it print, web, motion, blah blah blah blah blah.
The attitude towards the work should be maybe not identical but really damn close. I think the approach that we take to design, I think how we relate to design and how it is designers are creators and authors of design, should not change just because someone is paying you for it. Maybe the deliverable or timeline changes, maybe there’s an expectation of productivity that changes, there are certainly things that are different. But you’re not really there to just make the client happy, (and I know this sounds ridiculous) you’re there to make the design happy. And the happy design makes the client happy, the audience happy, and makes you happy.
There are much easier ways to make money than being a designer. Its such an interesting thing to do. And such a fascinating complicated little nugget of stuff, and weather you’re in school or working for a client, it shouldn’t matter.
More on Mitch:
Mitch Goldstein is a designer, educator, and writer. He received his BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and his MFA in Design/Visual Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. Mitch has taught in the departments of Graphic Design and Illustration at RISD, the department of Graphic Design at VCU, and the department of Art at Rhode Island College. He has given lectures, presentations, and been a guest critic at institutions around the country. Together with his partner Anne Jordan, he is principal of the interdisciplinary design studio Hypothesis, Ltd.
Mitch’s research examines the use of gestural and improvisational methodologies in the design process, and explores how the affordances of tools and techniques affect design outcomes. He is curious about the nebulous place between ideas and things, thoughts and artifacts, and the discoveries that can happen through process.