9 things Hip Hop taught me about graphic design

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An avid Hip Hop fan I can’t help but connect it with my passion for graphic design, heres a few principles it is taught me about being a better designer.

1- Remix, everything is a remix

Lines, colour and shapes aren’t new, so just like Hip Hop samples beats from every genre, every design is inspired by something or someone else’s creation, as the Bible verse goes ‘Nothing is new under the sun’. Don’t get me wrong i’m not saying nothing is original, there’s quite a difference, original is a translation of your perspective on an item or situation e.g. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, was an original take of what sunflowers looked like but he didn’t invent the sunflowers, nature did, he simply remixed them, he changed your perception on how you see them, now in your mind forevermore you may associate Van Gogh with sunflowers and vice versa.

Look for references and inspiration everywhere, in anything, you can find even the most uncanny of things: colour, line, shape, form, composition, remix it all, after all that’s what everybody else did.

2- Flow

In Hip Hop, flow is everything, there are millions of them, it’s your signature, your style, even if you don’t know someones lyrics you know their flow, just like design everything has to flow to a point and everyone has a style.

In Hip Hop certain flows have emphasis on certain words, rhymes and the beat, likewise in design, there are call to actions and important information that needs to be highlighted.As designers it’s imperative to have your own distinguishable style, your own flow.

3- It’s an art

It’s not just fancy words on fancy beats, it’s all intentional, just like design, it’s not art it’s an art, just as dance isn’t art it’s an art. We know art is an expression, well so is design in some retrospect, we are expressing the users needs, the company’s needs and the problem. Just because design is objective doesn’t mean it can’t be art or artistic.

It all comes down to the beauty of it as well, the communicable side, make it beautiful.

4- Niche

Every rapper has a lane, what they are best known for, flow, beats, political rap, conscience, street rap, Hip-Pop I could go on. You’ll notice a distinct association with the rapper just like design, some designers are purely logo designers, some are more illustrative. For a designer it’s important to find your niche and be known for something.

5- Collaborate 

Hip Hop is a massive collaborative community, writers, producers, directors, rappers and singers all come together to create, designers do too but can also work entirely by themselves. Nonetheless, collaboration is always a great thing and when I’ve worked with a team, I can honestly say we’ve had better ideas collectively than individually.

6- Hustle

Part of Hip Hops narrative is to hustle, not waiting around for opportunities or hand outs, but a go getting mentality, create the opportunity. Designing really well isn’t enough, you have to hustle, get it in front of the right audience, push it to the limit, take your designs on tour. there are more platforms to promote and display or work than there has ever been in the history of time.

Learn to hustle otherwise your work will simply collect dust.

7- Trends

Like almost any artistic pursuit, there are trends, things that artisans do that look or sound like everything else, Mr. Me Too syndrome, Hip Hop and design are no different, but trends will come and go, whether to ride them is down to you. If your a ‘go against the grain’ type of person, then stick to your style and maybe it’ll become a trend soon enough or even better, make you stick out like a sore thumb. Are trends good or bad? That’s another blog post to be honest.

8- Fearlessness 

Hip Hop is about being bold, bold fashion, bold in boasting, bold in everything you do, design is every much the same you can’t separate the two. Be fearless with your designs, don’t hesitate to start from the uniform, all the greats did.

9- Authenticity 

Put yourself in the art, make it authentic, as unique as your fingerprint; Hip Hop is all about being authentic, where you come from, what you did, who you are. Some rappers have personas, some are as real as it gets. Know and show your truth through your designs.

Hip Hop is full of lessons, from the artists, the industry and everything else; if you have any lessons from other genres, feel free to express in the comments.

Originally Published at thedesigntimes.co.uk for more articles and news on design and  inspiration.