I have been asked before “How can somebody be trendsetting?” The answer isn’t exactly cut-and-dry. The short answer is this: to be a trend-setter, you have to think differently. As in, different from everybody else. Being trend setting doesn’t necessarily mean doing things that are always new and/or different. Sometimes, the most trend-setting thing you can do is whatever is the most logical, assumed thing. An example that comes to mind is in regards to advertising. Let’s say you’re creating a newspaper advertisement for a local law firm. They want to target small business owners in the area by convincing them that said law firm has reasonable prices and trustworthy lawyers that can help with incorporating, small claims, tax auditing, etc. In this case, the most trendsetting thing you can do as a designer is meet everyone’s expectations: those of the law firm and those of the target demographic. If you live in a relatively conservative region, your advertisement needs to fit in with the ethos of the area, while providing enough visual punch to stand out amidst all the other newspaper advertisements.
A second key to becoming a trendsetting thinker is to learn who you are. What makes you “you”? You are unique. You are singular. There’s nobody else out there that is quite like you, so if you want to be trend setting, just be yourself! It may sound trite, and well, it is, but that doesn’t change the truth of the statement. My highest goal in identity design and branding is to learn who my clients really are—what drives them, what makes them “tick”, who they are and who they aren’t. Then, I translate that knowledge into the visual language. When a well-executed brand stands among its peers, it will stand out because it is unique.
So go out there and be yourself, artists and designers! Find your own voice in the marketplace. This is just as important as skill and experience; if you don’t know who you are and what you want out of your life, you’ll flounder.