The Shadow of the Shoulder Monster.

Steve jobs once said:

“we hire great people to tell us what to do not for us to tell them what to do”.

And yet, still today, if you’re a designer, someone will be waiting behind you to tell you how to do your job. These Sages of everything Design are known as ‘Shoulder-Monsters’.

I think it’s also exclusive to just graphic/digital design. Could you ever see yourself standing over the shoulder of a plumber, an electrician or a motor mechanic or how about a solicitor a vet or a doctor and telling them how to do their job without any education whatsoever in that particular field… wouldn't that be arrogant?

'Right, i’ve changed the filter on the carburettor lead-in. It was a hell of a job. basically what i had to do was-

You should have done it the other way.

I’m sorry..?’

The other way. Just move that there and put that there, change it to blue and then I think it could be done. Perfect!’

I tried that before I arrived at this…

Because even though I might not say it, by standing on your shoulder and offering up solutions, i infer that your job is well, quite easy.

I make it look easy

That’s just the same thing really.

What is?

That it’s easy.

I make it look easy.

Have you thought about gradiated buttons?

About 4 years ago, yes.

Have you thought about making them look like that, tho..?

Yes. About four years ago.

How about a spinning wheel of coloured-cats that fills the screen WITH cats every time you buy something? Can you get the computer to meow at point of purchase?



I remember working with a website builder who asked me to put a frog in the bottom corner of his site that every time you scrolled down and revealed the said frog, it would jump into the air, it's mouth open wide as a long cartoon tongue flicked out and attempted to grab pixeled flies. (This is all true btw…). When I told him that’s not something i’m interested in putting on any design, he told me his clients like that sort of stuff. I replied that as he wasn’t a designer and nor was his client, it wouldn't be a design route we would be exploring. He looked at me like a dog that’s just been shown a card trick…

So what i’m still learning at the grand old age of 29 (het-hum..) is that everyone regardless of no education in the design field is what...a designer? Is that a joke? Actually, yes. It is. We were going to tell you that even though you've been designing for 20 years, anyone can do what you do in minutes. All they've got to do is stand right next to your shoulder and… wow! this is so easy…

To be a designer today, you will be the product of every hour you've put into the ‘designer’ you. 

Design is experiential. The more experience you have at making things beautiful on or off the screen, the better you should be. We are the product of hours at the table. That’s it. There’s no divine intervention. There’s no finger of destiny pointing at anybody stating they’ll be a hell of a digital designer when they grow up. If you want to make great tables go and make tables; your first will be shite, your tenth won’t be as shite as your first and by your 30th table you might actually be getting somewhere.

Same with digital design. And Ux design. And graphic design, artwork, project management etc etc...

So next time 'that' guy or 'that' girl stands behind you, silently judging your design skill, ask them politely to go away and when you’re done colouring squares, you’ll come straight to their desk and stand behind them and like a wraith of authority, you’ll expertly advise them on how to push that excel spread sheet around the screen, perhaps change that box from red to blue or even how to make that spinning wheel of cats meow…

And if you ever feel like arming yourself against the would be shoulder monsters of your future, come and see us.

We’ve got your back :)


currently fighting off monsters at Camelot.