What is up with Eli Schiff?(twitter.com)

4 years ago from Vikalp Gupta, Designer from India

  • Cap WatkinsCap Watkins, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    I've been avoiding this issue hoping it'd die out, but since it's clearly not:

    I'm confused by the question. The design community has consistently and regularly promoted this person's work because it's incendiary even while being, so often, misinformed or willfully ignorant of context. These threads about "the latest incendiary thing Eli said" only serve to stoke the fire. If people called this person's work out for what it is (mean-spirited and purposefully incorrect analysis) and then ceased linking to and promoting it he'd either eventually stop or fade out.

    Reading and promoting stuff like this doesn't create a strong, healthy community. It doesn't promote the kind of constructive critique that should be held onto dearly by all creatives. Instead it praises a kind of grandstanding, holier-than-thou attitude that isn't in service of the greater good. It encourages and rewards self-promotion at all costs. I'm sure Eli will find this thread and say something snarky and people here will upvote it because lols, but just remember that with every link, click, RT and upvote you are shaping the culture of the design community. Make sure it's the kind of culture you want to live in.

    The community created this problem. The community should own and collectively fix the problem.

    138 points
    • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, 4 years ago


      8 points
    • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

      You're right. The community created a circumstance in which criticism that isn't adulating in nature is something noteworthy.

      If your version of a "strong, healthy community" is one without conflicting judgments, in which all criticism is "constructive" according to your criteria, then you've got it exactly backwards. That's a community that's brittle to the core.

      One wonders what sort of draconian "fix" you have in mind.

      27 points
      • Joshua SortinoJoshua Sortino, 4 years ago

        It's not what you say, it's how you say it. I think most of us prefer the community stay free of Bill O'reilly style critisism.

        29 points
        • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

          If you'd like to turn this into a form and content debate, we can. But realize that what you're doing is ultimately making a tone argument.

          3 points
          • xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx, 4 years ago

            That makes zero sense Eli.

            39 points
          • Eric WEric W, almost 4 years ago

            This is where Clippy would say "It looks like you're taking academic and feminist language to justify being a dick."

            32 points
          • alec salec s, almost 4 years ago

            This is all incredibly childish. Eli, your comments were laden with a tone that was insulting, you could have very easily been critical of the work without that. You've tried to justify that tone in a number of pathetic ways. If you really want to be known as the "asshole critical guy" that's totally okay, no one can stop you, but you should expect this kind of response if that's your persona. If you can't take the heat, you know what they say...

            22 points
      • Stephan AngoStephan Ango, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

        I've rarely seen a redesign that had such an overwhelmingly positive response as Ugmonk's. If the customers are happy, and those customers also happen to be designers, then I think we can agree that it was a successful redesign.

        There is plenty of thoughtful criticism within the design industry. Go read Armin Vit at Brand New for example. He does an excellent job dissecting the good and bad without resorting to inflammatory remarks. There is an expectation of decorum and intellectual rigor that comes with labelling yourself a "critic".

        36 points
        • Andrew Johnson, almost 4 years ago

          There is also an expectation of decorum and intellectual rigor that comes with labeling yourself "human," or "part of the community," and it reads like this: "Don't be a dick."

          Really, it is that simple. He's a dick about work that people poured incredible amounts of effort into. He's beating down other designers, and that sort of behavior makes our already-touchy community more toxic. People are sensitive about their work, and while this tendency loosens with experience and age, it never completely disappears. So much of our work is based on intuition, and a person's intuition is a vital part of their "essence," for lack of a better word. Pointing out the flaws in a person's aesthetic, or the failings in the approach is not inherently hateful if the speaker/writer takes the time and effort to explain and teach rather than simply insult.

          If all of his criticism didn't have an undertone of "How can't you idiots see that this designer is a lazy shithead? How have you let him take these shortcuts? His work is flawed in my eyes, and therefor must be a work of intentional malice toward the discipline of design as a whole." perhaps everyone wouldn't assume that he was just being a dick for the sake of being a dick.

          19 points
      • Patrick SmithPatrick Smith, 4 years ago

        I’m trying to be fair here, but couldn’t you frame it the same way with design? —

        If your version of "strong, healthy design" is one without conflicting judgments, in which all design is "constructive" according to your criteria, then you've got it exactly backwards. That's design that's brittle to the core.


        Criticism of design criticism is something that should be freely debated as design itself. If we can’t challenge and evolve our different tools and approaches for evaluating design, then how can we evolve design itself?

        4 points
      • Daniel De LaneyDaniel De Laney, 4 years ago

        Cap's comment said nothing about “conflicting judgements”. It did, however, mention “mean-spirited and purposefully incorrect analysis”. The fact that you misrepresented his his argument so spectacularly—again—is interesting.

        4 points
        • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

          He used the word "incendiary" twice, which means something that causes controversy and is contentious–in effect, something that involves conflict and disagreement over judgment.

          If you don't know the meaning of words, you might want to use a thesaurus. You're the one here again spectacularly misrepresenting what I've done, which is quite interesting.

          1 point
    • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, almost 4 years ago

      Glad you chose to speak into this. This was really well said.

      3 points
    • anthony thomasanthony thomas, 4 years ago

      There are a few problems with the design community that everyone should be aware of. First, we have the butthurt babies who cry over tone. Keep in mind that these are grown men who can't take it when someone doesn't coddle them with phony permission-seeking pleasantries. They ignore the substance of the argument completely and ONLY focus on tone. They refuse to see past the tone and react with their feelings instead of intellect.

      Second, we have people who give criticism that's too vague and NOT specific. It's not enough to say this logo is bad or this design is important. That means nothing if you're not specific. There are so many aspects that you should address. If you don't, people can interpret it in many ways. What makes a logo bad specifically? What is important about design specifically? If you're not specific, nobody knows what you mean exactly and you end up fighting over semantics debating over nothing in a pissing contest.

      Third, we have people who give one or two line comments that do nothing but create background noise. They say nothing that add to the discussion. Here are some examples of ones in this thread "cute", "cmon you're just trolling here", "be nice or else". These are asinine. What helps is if you give your opinion. People want to know what you think. The more people who give their specific and honest judgment, the more the discussion can move forward.

      We need more people giving their opinions and judgments. We need more people with tougher skin. We need more people who can be specific about what they like and don't like. We need less people who talk in a phony intellectual speak and speak like a person giving their candid, unadulterated thought. We need real designer men.

      8 points
      • Andrew Johnson, 4 years ago

        What you're saying, while inherently sexist, isn't far off the mark. It also isn't really worth saying.

        Do you know a single designer that doesn't want thicker skin?

        Candid, unadulterated thought is a very different thing. That style of communication is for children and others who are incapable/unwilling to be empathetic to their peers. Genuine, and potentially crushing criticism can make a person feel absolutely terrible, but this is a side effect of the information conveyed. Schiff confuses the side effect and the intended effect, and as such he is much more insulting than he is helpful.

        6 points
      • Ix TechauIx Techau, 4 years ago

        Although I agree with what you're saying I'm a bit disappointed that you think having thick skin, being honest and being intelligent are somehow male attributes ("we need real men"). But I'm willing to chalk it down to a temporary brain fart.

        6 points
      • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, 4 years ago

        The best part is when people throw this (mostly valid) comment out the window due to the last sentence. As if that one alone (which may be a mistake, may be purposeful) defines the premise of everything prior.

        1 point
        • Andrew Johnson, 4 years ago

          The "People," you're referring to is actually just one person. I mention that it is sexist, because it is sexist. The rest of my argument ignores that fact, since it had already been addressed, and even without the sexism as a basis for my argument, his point falls a bit flat.

          3 points
          • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, almost 4 years ago

            But as you admit, you still attempt to debunk his entire argument based on the last sentence as if it should or should not be a qualifier for the rest of the (non-related) subject matter.

            0 points
    • Terry OTerry O, 4 years ago

      Thank you for this. Not humanly possible to agree more. Save for this sole comment, personally I have decided to ignore all of his articles since the first part of his Instagram series, and stayed away from any threads discussing them. Only way to solve this is to take away the attention he craves.

      0 points
    • John PJohn P, 4 years ago

      "10 reasons why you shouldn't read posts about Eli Schiff"

      1 point