For creative types, the blogosphere often seems like a living, breathing organism, constantly reinventing itself to suit the new style. On sites like Pinterest, it’s possible to observe visual trends pop up in real-time: the insanity of ombre cakes, chevrons-on-everything, and outlandish photo booth props. Sometimes trends seem faddish or impractical, and it’s easy to keep them at arm’s length — but at what point is it wise to give in to a trend?
This topic is especially sticky for artists, whose creativity can blossom under the umbrella of the latest fad. However, “giving in” can prove to be a double-edged sword: while bringing mass appeal to your work can be positive (and lucrative), it can also limit your vision. George Lois, the true Mad Man of advertising, warned creatives about falling into this trap. “In any creative industry, the fact that others are moving in a certain direction is always proof positive, at least to me, that a new direction is the only direction,” he says. “The solution to each new problem or challenge should begin with a blank canvas and an open mind, not with the nervous borrowings of other people’s mediocrities.”
So how do we as creatives allow trends into our lives while maintaining individual expression? Though he comes from the the stock market realm, Jonathan Hoenig’s “follow the trend, not the crowd” mantra is solid advice. “We need not buy into every trend, but being aware of them provides the most meaningful insight into the markets there is,” says Hoenig. “Moreover, being a trend follower doesn’t always mean you’re part of the herd.” In other words, there’s no shame in making the ombre cake. But if you do it, make it your own.
Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.