mistakes were made
Errors of judgement have been at the front of my mind of late, for a variety of reasons. Not least of which because Lane is looking to put together a panel for UX Week that’s devoted entirely to tales of foul-ups of all shapes and sizes, from bad calls during client pursuits to going right over the cliff during a design phase.
It’s good to think about your mistakes, I suppose. Not focus on them, or dwell in regret – simply appreciate the fact that you get things wrong on occassion. The intent is to sort out how best to avoid making the same mistake twice; the side-benefit for people like me is that it forces us to acknowledge we’re less than perfect. That humility is purchased at the expense of both pride and vanity is not lost on me – like any cautious consumer, I’m just a little uncomfortable with the terms.
While I’d love to regale you with stories of my lowest moments in this business (and others), you’ll pardon me if I save those for the panel. What I will tell you is that there’s a whole subset of mistakes I’ll willingly admit to: things I love now but accidentally hated the first time I encountered them.
Scott Allie is pretty brilliant in his intro to The Art of Hellboy, letting us know how little he cared for Mike Mignola‘s art the first time he saw it. He’s a fan now, and he tries to explain how the disconnect happend: it was the lack of Finlay-esque detail. Funny that it wasn’t the old saw, that Mignola’s style wasn’t “right” for the superhero comics he was drawing at the time. As Scott puts it, when Mike drew “one of Marvel’s hottest books, X Factor (1990), fans clamored for the return of Rob Liefield.”
To my great shame, I admit to being one of those fans. I hated Mignola’s expressionist renderings and his (to my mind) impossible-to-comprehend action sequences. The flat colors, the moodiness, the lack of dismorphic musculature/starbursts for eyes/cybernetic hand-cannons in his character renderings… how could a 15 year old comic book fan take this guy seriously?
I had no idea what I was missing. I regret the fact that it took me nearly a decade to appreciate his brilliance.
The same goes for (deep breath):
Neal Stephenson‘s writing (“he’s no Gibson”), Cursive‘s music (“too quiet/shouty”), the South, ubiquitous computing (“too out there”), design conferences, San Francisco (“but I love the East Bay!”), root vegetables, Wes Anderson movies (I hated Rushmore on first viewing), English cookery, and, most likely, your blog.
It’s good to be able to own up to horrible mistakes in taste. The war against hubris starts with small admissions.