Chris Doyle’s new year resolutions

Regular readers will remember Chris Doyle’s Personal Identity Guidelines project from last year. His new work has a pop at a host of designer clichés

Regular readers will remember Chris Doyle’s Personal Identity Guidelines project from last year. His new work has a pop at a host of designer clichés

This Year I Will Try Not To is a collaboration with fellow designer Elliott Scott and was, the pair say, “born out of frustration, complacency and laziness. Most designers are seduced by design trends. They’re easy to appropriate, and even easier to imitate. The challenge is to innovate. To be new. We decided the best (and most enjoyable) approach was to identify and document the most common trends we felt we had to avoid. Before long we found ourselves with a checklist of DON’Ts and a new aim: to try to be new. We may fail, but we will try.”

In a series of set-ups, Doyle promises to avoid various clichés of designer life. The format itself conforms to current trends – it’s a loose-bound newsprint booklet with tastefully muted pallette and centred upper case type.

And, as a sly dig at himself, Doyle even promises that he will not “produce self-focused, inward looking, promotional work, for the sole purpose of industry recognition”.

And it has the obligatory Vimeo ‘making-of’ film

This Year I Will Try Not To is available here. Check out Michael Johnson’s feature for CR on why designers feel the need to put themselves at the centre of their work

Thanks to copywriter Mike Reed for Tweeting us about the project.

  • Pixelfibre

    Maybe next, year he should ‘try not to’ make the obligatory vimeo video…

  • sam

    Brilliantly to the point, expect a whole load of similar projects from the boat shoe crew.

  • You’re welcome. I was fascinated to hear that Chris and Elliott have been taking a lot of flak about this. (Can’t resist mentioning that I’ve blogged about it: Is it just because I’m a writer that I’m not taking it personally?

  • Adam

    Next year I will try not to misspell laid in my self indulgent newsprint booklet.

  • Jack O

    and chris doyle is?

  • A N Other

    and Jack O is?

  • sdgasd

    Adam, next time try not to leave the quotation marks and hyphen out of your snarky post. You’re welcome.

  • Tyler

    I think we can safely assume that anyone who takes offence to this post, has committed one of these cliches before. Don’t feel bad about it my darling little cherrypots…

  • Jasmine Farahat

    Trying to be original, new, and creative can be a bit difficult when the process of learning a creative art is to try techniques that have been done before. But art is a medium for expression and as a tool, it can be manipulated into something unique depending on how you use it. Originality is an aspiration all artists strive for. To separate them from the rest and make a name for themselves.

  • Everyone’s a critic

    Geesh… Some people need to add “This year I will try not to profess to being an expert on everything by leaving comments on blogs about things I’d probably never have the creative foresight to do, but still feel the need to comment/slag it off anyway”


    I got my hands on a copy of this the other week, while at a talk hosted by the guys from Interbrand Australia. It did make me laugh and want to hide. Yes I think I’d done pretty much 90% of everything in there.

    Good stuff.

  • DOGS

    Tiresome derivative self indulgent rubbish.

    Can’t believe this crap is even getting posted

  • Jim

    I like it, very funny and true.

    Although I wonder if the project slightly contradicts itself, ‘This year I will try not to: Produce self-focused, inward looking, promotional work, for the sole purpose of industry recognition.’ But maybe that’s the point.

  • Joanna

    It’s teased out some bitchiness hasn’t it!

  • Dr Black

    I’d much rather sit here and typeset this annual report for several days.

  • I think Chris Doyle (and thousands of other designers) should stop looking at other designers work, buying design books by designers for designers. I think you get the gist. Start looking at reference points a little further from home. Inspiration from more obscure sources. Then next year we might have thousands of designers fusing microwaved camel shit into house bricks photographed on the edge of a precipce and not a bull dog clip or hand holding a sheet of paper in sight. I think this might just catch on.

    Chris has ended up parodying and thus perpetuating the things that he is essentially chastising others not to do. I guess this is what you call Irony!?

  • Req

    I like it. I think it’s funny. I haven’t most of the stuff on there but I like the idea of some of them. I like originality but I prefer to just do good work. You can’t be original all the time. Some things catch on as trends because they are a good way of doing something. If you take a photo of a poster held up by bulldog clips then I guess it’s because it shows it’s a real poster and not just the flat artwork from an eps or whatever.

    I do my best not to follow the overused anyway but if you go to far you end up looking like a bit of a twat, like turning up to an interview without a portfolio “because that’s what everybody does”. “Instead I just tattooed my work on a series of female models.”

    That being said I still like this. Can’t help noticing a few things on the guy’s portfolio of other things he could try not to do. Like the isometric/angled logo with different photographs in it.

  • Rebekah

    I think holding your work to photograph it is a really good way of showing the scale of the work.
    Lots of people have done it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

    Also no-one can deny that we spend most of our lives wrapped up in self-obsessions and parading it around through social media, fashion, brands etc. Whether you lay it out on the floor to photograph or not is hardly a crime worth commentating on. It is just another example of the vanity that we all exercise.

    Oh and well done for the contradiction ‘This year I will try not to: Produce self-focused, inward looking, promotional work, for the sole purpose of industry recognition.’

    How else you make yourself stand out in this uber competitive industry without investing a little time on presentation and personal development projects?

  • Dr Black

    This year I will try not to … yet again wonder if I should have become a plumber.

  • @Dr Black LOL, joiner in waiting here.

  • Johann du Plessis

    The so-called ‘contradiction’ makes me wonder about Rebekah’s own vanity…

  • mike

    Maybe rather than concocting some lame excuse to do all the hip things he is trashing on, they should have actually done something that was none of these things. Rather than making up a BS excuse to do ALL of them. I’m betting that if you removed all these tactics from these designers quiver they wouldn’t be left with much.

    It’s like the “let’s make weapons out of paper” craze that is supposed to be some critical statement on weapons, when it is really just a childhood urge to make cool weapons, and the only way the artists rationalize doing it is to act like they hate weapons, when really who are we kidding- we all think they’re pretty cool.

    Lame as hell. you’re telling me that in all the spare time it took for these guys to create this piece, they could have actually tried to make something that lives up to the values they espouse to, but chose rather to do only the things they are trashing on? What a waste of time. Hipsters.

  • A well written and designed piss take that made me smile. Who cares if its a little introverted and a touch self absorbed, its well thought through, single minded, well executed and doesn’t sit on the fence.

  • Lighten up, people.

  • Sam

    This year I will try not to mess about looking at design blogs when I really should be working.

  • funny, and well executed.

  • I work with Chris and Elliot. What the photos don’t show is the end line, which is “I may fail, but I will try”. It’s also Chris and Elliot admitting to committing a few crimes themselves, whilst poking fun at the blogs for a bit of repition in the kind of self initiated projects that get posted.
    The intended spirit was a lighthearted inward looking joke at our industry. Many designers do look at streams likes of ffffound, formfiftyfive, etc., because they’re fans of design. There are some patterns going on to be fair.
    Take it in the spirit it in which it was intended – a piss take. A chance to laugh at ourselves in an often too serious world. Maybe it doesnt appeal to every reader, but for many who get it, it’s hilarious. It’s my kind of humor, and I like it. 😉

  • Rob

    This year I will try not to design a new type of bookshelf that doubles as something else;…should also be added to the list.

  • Rob

    This year I will try not to design a new type of bookshelf that doubles as something else;…should also be added to the list.

  • Design will eat itself.

    I don’t think pastiche is the best way to express ‘frustration’ at a lack of original work…

  • The problem with humorous piss takes aimed at others is you can’t control how they will take it, and you’re essentially relying on them to take the joke in the way it was intended – and since 99% of people are only seeing this online, there’s a lot of distance being created between author, and viewer. Some types of humor and tones of voice simply don’t translate into text, or even image.

    It seems fairly clear from this discussion, the discussion on and on twitter and many other places, that the authors’ considerable skills in communication have not allowed them to pull this one off.

    Mr Doyle’s previous work in parodying his own identity, and style guides (an abstract concept with no person at the other end to offend), was much more successful in the sense no one got offended, and everyone gave him a pat on the back, an award statue, etc etc.

    As someone who also teaches, I find this rather troublesome for young designers. Young designers learn through imitation, whether recreating the style and approach of their heros from yesteryear, or the ‘flavour of the minute’ superstars of the now. Whether it was intended or not, many young designers have expressed to me the feeling that this piece belittles them.

    My first response was to laugh, but the longer this storm in a teacup has swirled around, the more annoying I’ve found the piece. It’s born, in the author’s words, from anger and frustration – never a good way to begin a creative process, I’ve found – and the cynicism is obviously reflected in the work, and being picked up on by the viewer.

  • Jim

    Quite a dull idea really, sorry.

  • To Julian Harriman-Dickinson didnt you just create a self promo newspaper…surely thats a real ironic twist gone mad…chris has every sense of irony whilst doing this work, note: work done very well and before everyone else thought of it…he’s not angry, or hating or anything like that…i think those individuals that have that reaction to this work are frustrted as he’s held up a mirror to their own lives.

  • After knowing Chris as long as I have, and being able to gauge his work from Uni right through his career, he does bring a sense of fun and humour to his work that a lot of designers just don’t. He was never a churn it out kind of guy and I still remember he had some awesome work in uni that made my stuff look like random scratches on a page from some deranged alcohol fuelled lunatic. (yes I drank a LOT at Uni, didn’t most of us?)

    My first reaction was to want and go and do half the things I had seen in the paper. Simply as an act of self indulgent design wankery and put it up as part of a response to the paper.

    Honestly if you can’t see the humour, you are missing the point.

    Just look at the European woman in the solar system collage and tell me if they intended that as anything but a poke at other trend following designers.

  • this is good

    designers can be such twats

  • this is good

    designers can be such twats

  • Karl

    Wow. That’s a lot of comments. Possibly the most I’ve ever seen on a CR article? Do you agree CR?

    Is it bad that I am commenting on the comments and not the content of the article?!

    No comment.