Friday, May 29, 2009

Inkd - The Beginning of the End?

If the design world had a hell, I imagine that this thing would be at its center, festering and cackling maniacally. Inkd provides prepackaged designs in a variety of categories, from Arts and Entertainment to Medical and Marketing businesses. Simply browse through the designs provided for you and choose the style you prefer to apply to your own company identity. 

For instance, perhaps you're leading an organization involved in setting up an art fair event in your community. Most people might go to a marketing firm or design studio, or perhaps pay a freelance artist for their time involved in creating the advertising, brochures, or event identity that is often required for such an event. Inkd removes this requirement, allowing you to purchase a predetermined design (basically a kind of template) at an astoundingly low price, to do with as you wish. Designers submit their work to Inkd, and if chosen, their artwork is put up for sale on the website. In the event that their design is sold, they receive a measly 20% commission. 

Business cards are sold for $39. Brochures for $99. Postcards for $29. 

In my eyes, this is wrong on a number of different levels. Is this not devaluing the design industry? Professional designers are putting time and energy into designing template work and being paid so little for their efforts. As an art student working my way through school, it's been drilled into my head that there is a certain process to approaching a client and a project. The design process is essential in providing a successful outcome. But in this case, there is no process -- The outcome is generalized to fit a genre instead of a specific person, event, or company. This redefines everything I thought to be true about graphic design.

From what I understand, once a design is purchased it may be altered to cater to a person's needs. I suppose that's simple enough. But where is the direction? The inspiration? The story? There's nothing in that when starting with a prefabricated design that was created with nothing in mind except a general idea and arbitrary font choices, illustrations, and graphics.

Successful design keeps these things in mind. There is research, inspiration, innovation, and reasoning behind choosing what goes into the project each step of the way. Inkd may provide well designed identity systems and brochures, but it is not successful. It goes against everything I've learned and come to love about design. 

If this is one step closer to drive-thru graphic design and marketing, I fear for the future. 

"Hi, I'll have the Logo Special Deluxe. That comes with business cards included, right?"

"It sure does. That'll be $5.95, please pull up to the next window."

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