Just Say No to Snarky

Sean Adams, Columbia College, not being snarky

Last week I went to Chicago to speak at the Cusp Conference. Pat and Greg Samata, Dave Mason, and Kevin Krueger of smbolic are the organizers and couldn’t have been more gracious, or accommodating. I’ve known Pat and Greg for 15 years and they have always been a huge inspiration to me. Some of the presenters made me rethink some basic issues. It was an amazing experience.

During a break, I sat down with a well-known character in the design world (to be named when I write the book, when I’m old). For 15 minutes, he told me about his enormous success, invention of everything, and impatience with everyone else in the world. He said nothing positive about anything else. He finished with a fine story about slamming other speakers at a different conference.

Now, I may be old fashioned, but I’ve spent a career with designers who embody generosity. From Saul Bass, Michael Vanderbyl, Paula Scher, Dana Arnett, Michael Bierut, Jennifer Morla, and a long, long list (also to be included in the book), the example has always been to give back, reinforce others and be kind. I think the days of unkind and snarky designers are over. To paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, “whenever we tear at the fabric of the lives which another designer has painfully and clumsily woven for himself, whenever we do this, then the whole profession is degraded.” I would propose that the next time another designer is patronizing or unkind to you, you say this, “You sir, are no gentleman,” unless it’s a woman, in which case, “You, madam, are no lady.” You may slap them with your gloves, if you are inclined to a duel. Unless it’s me, then remember I’m easily confused.

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4 Responses to “Just Say No to Snarky”

  1. Amy Graver Says:

    Sean, I couldn’t agree more. Sage advice. Thank you for this post. Sadly, the snarky ones will not get it and will read this and think it doesn’t pertain to them. Too bad. Looking forward to “the” book, but not our getting older. I can wait for that.

  2. Joe Says:

    Yup… this one is getting tweeted and posted on the good ol Face of Book. Sean, I have seen you express these thoughts before and I couldn’t agree more! Love that philosophy!!!!

    p.s. you fit right in that list of those who embody generosity!

  3. Brian Mays Says:

    Love the post, love the viewpoints, agree with everything you say here. As those younger than me on the internet would say, “CO-SIGNED!” Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kathryn Says:

    “painfully and clumsily”…I love this.