I’m just crazy about Man Men from the minute I saw the first episode a couple of years ago I know I had just watched something very special. I love the same things as everyone else; the exquisite styling, the sharp and understated scripts, the well-placed looks, as well as the incredible way they document the social shifts that took place in the sixties. All of the above is hugely impressive but what I love most is the why they show creative thinking. I don’t know of any other example that better demonstrates commercial idea generation to a mainstream audience.
In the very first episode they showed Donald Draper the advertising mastermind sitting in a café scribbling on a napkin after having a conversation that triggered his imagination – I can’t tell you how many napkins, receipts and bus tickets are shoved into my sketch book because ideas never happen when I’m sat at my desk thinking about them. I wouldn’t dare say I’m like the great Don but I do see myself in the character of Peggy Olson not the way she looks or acts but she like me is an extroverted thinker, this means she thinks as she talks and I love watching her ideas grow as she speaks to her colleagues. I don’t find it easy explaining my creative skills, I don’t really have many but I am good and fast at coming up with ideas and in Mad Men while other do the drawings, take the photos and type the letters the people that come up with the concepts are the heroes’. This is a rare glimpse of a different way of being a creative.So why am I talking so much about Mad Men and ideas and all that stuff. Well I have a theory that the big difference between a designer (or indie designer) and a crafter is whether the work is lead by ideas or technique. My work is lead by ideas, there for I am a designer. I care about it’s production but I don’t have to make it myself to feel like it’s mine. Where as the careful making of a piece by hand is of the most significance to a crafter. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that creative thinking isn’t part of craft or that productions isn’t important to design, it’s a question of where the emphasis lays that’s key. Like most things it’s not clear-cut, black and white (I will explore this in more depth next week – work load permitting:). I do however believe this is an option for how we can define ourselves more clearly and it does once again highlight the issue faced by indie designers like myself working under the umbrella of ‘handmade’ ‘craft’. I wonder how many other indie designers get asked on a daily basis to talk about how they make their work, what there favorite materials are, the time each piece takes to create – all great questions for crafters. Because we - the indie designers - are currently hiding under someone else’s identity we’re talking in a language that isn't ours and it means that we’re not forming our own voice. We need to find the right questions to get the true answers.