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.
C'mon guy, you're just trolling here.
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.
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.
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.
That makes zero sense Eli.
Perhaps to you. I was referring to the question of separating form (how I'm saying it) from content (what I'm saying.)
That still makes zero sense Eli.
Just wanted to say I agree.
This is where Clippy would say "It looks like you're taking academic and feminist language to justify being a dick."
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...
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".
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.
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?
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.
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.
This belongs in /r/iamverysmart. He knows what "incendiary" means and you understand very well the connotation here.
Man, you are such a smug asshole.
Glad you chose to speak into this. This was really well said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"10 reasons why you shouldn't read posts about Eli Schiff"
The more you talk about him, the greater his SEO.
Let's refer to him as 'The One'. Kind of like a rel="nofollow" tag.
I think Eli plays a useful role in the community by showing that criticism is OK. Right now the pendulum has swung so far towards the "awesome work!" risk-free Dribbble-comments approach to design feedback that I'm willing to take some of his mean-spiritedness if it can re-balance the force a bit.
That doesn't mean I agree with all (or even most) of what he says. For example I personally think the rebrand is fine. But I think it'd be a shame to lose one of the few dissenting voices we have in the name of ”being nice”.
Dissent and insult are different things. Thinking differently from another person and expressing those thoughts is dissent. Expressing that the other is incorrect for not meeting your personal view, is insult.
He doesn't have to "be nice," but perhaps treating the designers he "critiques," like the humans that they are, he would have better luck getting his point across.
If getting his point across isn't his goal, then I challenge the idea that he's a critic. The only other goal he could be achieving is making himself look like a member of a long-lost design style who is angry that he's lost the plot.
I don't think that is the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if many did.
Criticism is fine, maybe even a dose of overly harsh criticism is all good and well, especially if it has effect you talk about, but wilful ignorance disguised as honest critique is downright insidious and creates division. See his articles about responsive design for an example of that.
Yeah I mean there are people who give well thought out feedback that is both positive and negative, but typically you see a lot more of the over friendly empty remarks. What's wrong with adding a little dash of snarky criticism into the mix?
The only thing I don't get is if people don't care about what he has got to say, then why do people care about what he has got to say?
If he insults something you worked on or like, can't you just ignore him? Unless of course there is some niggling doubt in your head that he may be right... :S
It's a classic case of a guy who can talk the talk but can't walk the walk. I started ignoring him after I saw his work. Maybe one day he will look to improve himself rather then tear others down.
Eli Schiff is a critic, not a designer. I mean, look at his work, it's mediocre at best.
He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
Ugh, teachers and teaching and education, right? The losers of society.
Who the fuck is Eli Schiff?
Some angry design man
This was my first question as well. I read just enough to figure out that I don't care.
Be nice. Or else.
Thankfully, I don't design for critics.
I'm sad for him, he's clearly a good designer but talking shit about other's work will only deserve him on the long run. This being said, most of his work is skeuomorphic and quite rich, I can understand that people who worked really hard to reach this level of realism are now disappointed to see the rise of flat and minimal design.
[…] he's clearly a good designer
That's definitely debatable and anything else but clear ;)
What he clearly is is a person who has a good vocabulary and knows how to construct critiques in a way that support his (personal) view.
He's the Donald Trump or Mike Cernovich of the design community. Everyone starts talking about them, then they see them mentioned everywhere and everyone wonders why everyone is talking about them.
I've been avoiding this too– I remember when he was just announcing the launch of his blog on Dribbble. I never thought we'd get here.
While I do believe he's well intentioned (every craft should have its' critics)– like Cap I believe he's misinformed. He clearly cares a lot about visual, illustrative, and graphic design (which is great).
In the last few years we've had massive paradigm shifts in those crafts and I think those things are worth discussing. But– I don't believe his blog is a thoughtful exploration of that. It just looks like frustration coming from seeing a craft he cares about change rapidly in a direction he doesn't like. Some people find this interesting. I do not.
His blog to me is nothing more than him swimming against the tide of a continuous evolution. I hate reading his posts– but I also do believe he has every right to keep blogging despite what I think of his critique. If you don't like his posts, ignore them. If you do...¯_(ツ)_/¯
He's not wrong saying any mediocre branding would look great the way they have displayed it though. That's not to say Ugmonk re brand is good or bad, I don't care
His profile says:
Design critic, UI design consultant and speaker
Funny enough, he doesn't even describe himself as a designer.
Maybe it's an "all PR is good PR" thing.
It's very easy to criticise other people's work without fully knowing the context that it was made under. Ignore this kind of thing and move on.
Perhaps his content would be worth reading if he framed it as a postmortem instead of a beat-down. Interview the designers involved, then explore WITH them what went wrong, what could've gone better, and frame it squarely within the context of its creation instead of Eli's weird anti-everyone-else bias.
While I find myself disagreeing with Eli quite a bit, and do find him to be a bit overly snarky at times, it really isn't THAT bad to deserve this kind of response.
I do find we designers tend to have quite thin skins, and I think we forget just how harsh criticism is in other fields that we take for granted.
There is certainly a debate to be had about the value of various critiques and how good they are as critiques, but using Eli's design work itself as a critique is silly, how many film critics do we expect to be excellent film makers?
Heck didn't it used to be pretty much the only way to become known as a film or food critic was to be harsh on occasion?
Sometimes I am indirectly embarrassed by how Eli goes about approaching these critiques, but I am also turned off by how many of us react to him.
The Donald Trump of the design world.