Gordon Kaye On GDUSA’s Pandemic Poll

Gordon Kaye is Editor/Publisher of GDUSA. This column first appeared in the June 2020 edition of GDUSA magazine in print and digital, and refers to a recent reader poll addressing the creative community’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

“Hope is not a plan” the data-driven have repeatedly told us during this crisis. True, as far as it goes. But combine hope with a strategy and concrete action and it becomes a force multiplier. Confidence, resourcefulness and resilience can make all the difference.

Creative professionals understand this, at least based on the responses to our Pandemic Pause Reader Poll conducted during the tumultuous months of May and June. Early on, confronted with pressing issues of personal and business survival, most respondents focused, understandably, on the hows and wheres of safety and security, the challenges of home offices, the pros and cons of remote work, the joys and dangers of too many Zoom cocktail hours.

But by late in the Spring, following weeks of lockdown and as the easing of restrictions began, more philosophical questions of purpose and meaning began to emerge. Comments suggest that, in the crucible, many designers have forged a clearer sense of personal and professional priorities, and started to reimagine a transformed future. They report a greater appreciation of family and friends; the desire for a healthier and less stressful work-life balance; a revived passion for creativity and for their chosen profession; an increased understanding of the synergy of collaboration and community; a commitment to work with socially responsible clients and projects; an aspiration to do better and be better.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and puppies. Reexamining priorities is also leading to the breakup of personal and professional relationships that are not working. In an odd and counterintuitive way that, too, can be seen as positive. At least for divorce lawyers.

And, yes, the vast majority of designers are refreshingly hopeful. About the long term value and viability of the creative business. About their unique capacity to help revive and shape brands, companies, communities, and causes. About playing a positive role in rebuilding trust in social contact and the social contract. In the face of uncertainty and adversity, designers are proving adaptable and ingenious — and hopeful.