Vandalism is defined as the willful destruction of someone else's property. We usually think of it in terms of buildings or property but can't the same term be coined for creative abs intellectual property? I think so. Insert "design vandal".
A design vandal is someone who takes your work and willfully and deliberately sets out to destroy it. Sounds extreme? It happens more then you might think.
Most often these "vandals" will be found on your team or in collaboration with you. Whether it's a designer that works for one of your clients or strictly a peer, anytime you are sending a colleague your designs you are potentially running the risk of being vandalized. Is there anything you can do about it? Not really. But we can make sure that we in turn do not turn into one of these vandals ourselves.
Let's expose some of the traits of a vandal and how to deal with them. Now don't misunderstand by 'deal' I don't mean donning ski masks and baseball bats, thought the temptation may be there. Let's look at how to not allow the the satisfaction of destroying your confidence.
1. A vandal will make meaningless changes to your work. Often these changes are simply an expression of power. They don’t necessarily add or subtract to your work and can normally be ignored.
2. A vandal will make negative changes to your work. From adding outlandish colors to gradients and different background choices their choices will negatively impact your design. This type of vandal is the most detrimental. Normally their attacks are more personal and based in jealousy.
3. A vandal will rearrange your elements. As designers we know that the placements we choose are crucial. The design vandal will thwart your overall look by changing things around. When confronted they will usually respond with “it didn’t feel right”.
Whether or not you are in an environment to confront these situations I think the real lesson here is being cognizant that design vandalism occurs and guarding yourself against becoming one of these vandals yourself.
So what do you do when faced with an opportunity to vandalize someone else’s work? Even if this directive is coming from a client or a supervisor you can handle the situation with integrity.
1. Communicate before the fact. Talk with the original designer if possible and allow them to make the desired changes. If they are unwilling or refuse, you are now free to shake that off and do what you must.
2. Communicate after the fact. If your facing a deadline and must make changes to someones work, be sure to show the courtesy of calling or emailing them with the changes you had to make and why. Above all put yourself in the other designers position.
3. Never change to change. Guard yourself against the temptation to make changes based on your own perspective or feelings. If changes are necessary then handle them gracefully as mentioned above. If not, then leave alone. It’s not your work and you have no right to adjust someone else’s.
As you travel down the path of design I hope you are able to deal with these situations with integrity. If you find yourself the victim of a design vandal separate the emotion and hurt from the real situation. Remember that those that destroy your work are jealous of your talent.