There are going to be some very different attitudes to today. Many people will be proving their undying love through candlelit dinners and roses, or cuddly hearts and hearty cuddles. Others will be commiserating or celebrating their ‘single’ status with a very large drink. Some will just dismiss the idea of Valentine’s Day altogether.
And in the middle of this Venn diagram, there’ll be a group who will still reminisce about past relationships, about the girlfriends and boyfriends in times gone by, and maybe even the One That Got Away.
As head of design at KISS, I know the feeling of letting go of past loves all too well, though in a slightly different sense. When we sit down to design initial brand concepts, we usually come up with at least three routes for the client to choose from. With each of them, we want to challenge the client, disrupt the sector, and come up with something that will really stand out.
That means testing different concepts and coming at things from different angles. But in all cases, you have to be convinced that they’ll work long term. After all, you’re going to be with the final concept for years, so you need your heart to be in it – you really don’t want to be tied to a design concept that you didn’t actually believe in.
So you end up becoming emotionally invested in each concept during that intense creative period, putting blood, sweat and tears into making them the best they can be. Alright, it doesn’t quite reach the level of whispering sweet nothings during a slow dance, but there’s no doubt that you can get pretty attached even during the short space of time you spend together.
But at the end of the day, you know your client will have to pick 'the one', and the other two – no matter how brilliant you think they are – have to be left behind.
Every designer will know the heartbreak of having to let go of concepts after the whirlwind excitement of initial creativity. Especially since, just as with any relationship, there was the potential for them to then grow richer and evolve over time. You’re not just losing the present, but the future too.
That’s not to say it was all for nothing, though. Sometimes brilliant concepts and ideas that just weren’t quite right at the time can inform new designs that are perfect for future projects: you just keep them in your ‘little black book’, ready for when the perfect time comes! And when you love what you do, just exploring all the possibilities and seeing what works best can be its own reward.
It’s always a shame that even great designs don’t always go the distance, and it’s natural that you might pine after what could have been. But in this business you have to put your feelings aside, and do what is best for the client and their brand.
Of course, I might have given a different answer fifteen years ago. Just like with relationships, when you’re younger you get scared that if you miss an opportunity, it won’t come around again; when you get a bit older, you realise that there’s always another just over the horizon. So you take what you’ve learned, roll up your sleeves, and move on to the next adventure. There are plenty more fish in the sea.