What Makes a Legend?

Once again, I find my foot in my mouth. This further exposition will likely only make it worse, but here goes... Last post, I listed a few legends of "traditional" design (though part of what makes these people legends is being anything but traditional.) In an [obviously failed] effort to resonate with the web design bunch, I included Cameron Moll. I was instantly, and perhaps rightly, put in my place for even mentioning them in the same sentence. It's made me wonder: Does web design have legends? Will it ever? The current design climate of the Internet seems to resemble what would happen if Adobe made CS3 free-ware and offered free printing/production to the first 10 million people to submit designs. Still the preponderance of hideous design on the web today does not preclude the possibility of truly exceptional innovation, well-grounded aesthetic and clean execution. CA's Interactive Annual is packed with stunning examples, but even their opening editorial suggests it's like panning for gold to find them.

A couple possible contributing factors: The medium is young: Nobody's had time (we're talking decades, not years) to truly establish a reputation for consistently superior work.

The technology is constantly evolving: By the time you get one system/method/language (whatever it is you guys actually use) down, another is sweeping the stage. Nobody's had time to truly refine any one approach--perhaps nobody else would be interested if somebody did.

We haven't developed viable evaluation criteria: The experience of web/interactive design is fundamentally different. Usability, for instance, adds a whole new dimension. Perhaps, we just haven't agreed upon what's "good" yet.

The whole climate of design is changing: While there certainly are still giants in the sky, design in general has become something of a team sport. Only 3 of the award-winners in the Interactive Annual were produced outside a firm--and all of them involved collaboration with writers, photographers etc. We may no longer have a place for a single visionary.

Cameron Moll probably can't be rightly compared with Milton Glaser. Perhaps no web designer ever will be. Not because they are on different "levels." Not because they will never be as "good." But because, perhaps, there will never be another Milton Glaser.

The field of design is expanding, diversifying, fragmenting, and fusing at a rate at once exhilirating and terrifying. Definitions change. Who will be our legends? Will we even have them?

Packaged to a "Tea"

Packaged to a "Tea"

Notes on a Rant