Editorial: Inspiring Mediocrity - The D.I.Y. Design Culture

Editorial: Inspiring Mediocrity - The D.I.Y. Design Culture

There has been a rising trend in recent years; that of the D.I.Y. design culture. As Joe Lamantia describes, ‘the erosion of traditional barriers to creation marks the onset of the DIY Future, when everyone is a potential designer… substantial expertise, costly tools, specialised materials, and large scale channels for distribution are no longer required to execute design.The trend has been fiercely debated by amateur designers, professionals and onlookers, with those in favour believing that DIY design makes creativity accessible to all, and those against suggesting that it devalues creative professionals' skill and clouds the creative world with mediocre work.

Ellen Lupton, a key writer in favour of the D.I.Y. movement argues that D.I.Y. design helps people to understand and appreciate professional designers; 'verbal literacy is good for literature—Shakespeare means very little to people who can’t read or write. Likewise, visual literacy is good for design: when people experience the power of typography and images first-hand, they can better understand design that is produced at the highest level’ (http://www.aiga.org).

Basically Lupton is suggesting that the more people engage in design themselves, the more they will value the work of professionals.

However, true as her analysis may be, that people who cannot read and write will not appreciate Shakespeare, it can also be argued that these people will not necessarily put their own writing into a public sphere, or try and replace Shakespeare’s works with their own attempts.


I would argue that whilst it's great for people to be able to express themselves creatively, (and we are all creative in some way or other) the accessibility to platforms on which to display, publish and promote work means that a lot of what we see, read and watch today isn't really very good. We live in a world where 'everyone's a designer.' A world where clients present their own sketches (or even those done by their neighbour's five-year-old) to the designer they're employing, rather than trusting their expertise and judgement. Can you imagine a similar situation when consulting a doctor, lawyer or plumber? Perhaps creatives themselves have begun to devalue their own skill, and settle for producing work at the level of mediocrity that is accepted by the masses, rather than striving to create their best work. As a designer, I know how tempting it can be to settle for the easy option of creating something less than your best, but equally I know the fear of actually finishing a project - when I want to keep refining and refining until it's absolutely perfect; there has to be a middle ground.

The team at Creative Arts Network are passionate about seeing high quality work produced with commitment and integrity. Mediocrity is not good enough. Does that mean that there is no place here for experimentation or those starting out? Far from it. The Creative Arts Network is not an elitist thing, and we actively support and encourage creative people to develop and do their best work. We provide training and exhibition opportunities as well as a network of people with whom to collaborate and seek advice. We do not exist to further crowd the information age with mediocre visual information, or to congratulate ourselves within our own little bubble, but to enrich the lives of the creative community and engage with the rest of the world by celebrating real beauty and skill.

There are all kinds of ways that you can get involved, and as the Community Builder of the Creative Arts Network, it's my job to help you get access to the support, advice and exposure you need. I'd love to hear from you. Drop me an email or come along to one of our Meet ups.

If you'd like to be a part of our creative collective you can apply here.

Would you like the opportunity to have your own solo exhibition? Find out more here

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