For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, dribbble is an invite only ‘show and tell’ site for creative types. The idea is you upload a small ‘shot’ of something you’re working on, then sit back and wait for all the ‘likes’ and positive comments to come flooding in, thereby massaging your ego and making you feel good for the rest of the day…
Of course I’m joking, but not without a small hint of sarcasm.
Dribbble has become a phenomena in certain circles and garnered equal amounts of criticism and praise. Those in favour say it’s the perfect place to gain inspiration and receive constructive criticism from their peers. Those against say it’s elitist, snobby, and not used for purpose (too many people showing off work created simply for dribbble – i.e. not work-in-progress).
Do I dribbble?
Dribbble first came to my attention last year. I noticed people talking about it on Twitter, clicked through and was immediately blown away by what I saw. I don’t think I’d ever seen such a high standard of work by so many different people all in one place. Of course it quickly became apparent why this was the case – the site was invite only, thereby asserting a level of control over the quality of work. I started asking around about how one might obtain an invite and was introduced to the (extremely) competitive world of dribbble drafting.
For a couple of months I went through all the avenues that most people try (I’m embarrassed to say it probably became a bit of an obsession), asking (politely of course), mini design competions, showing work to various people and so on, and it was this last thing that eventually bore fruit. After showing some of my work to the designer Morgan Allan Knutson he was gracious enough to draft me onto ‘the team’.
Do I like to dribbble?
After about 6 months of dribbbling what do I think? A lot of comments, negative and positive, have been levelled at dribbble and I don’t want to go over old ground – simply google ‘dribbble good bad’ and you’ll find many articles on the subject if you’re interested in reading more. What I want to mention are my own feelings on the site.
Essentially it has challenged me to up my game and provided me with a window onto what other designers around the world are doing. I work for a small, busy design agency in London (plus I do a bit of freelance) and it’s so easy to focus on the immediate vicinity, never looking outward for inspiration. In fact a year or so ago I was starting to feel a bit jaded and lacking in energy and purpose. I felt I was losing my passion for design, which was worrying. I knew I wasn’t a ‘bad’ designer, but I was just churning out the same old ‘safe’ stuff. Something had to change and dribbble was part of that.
I can honestly say that dribbble (and let’s not forget other excellent design networking sites such as Forrst) gave me the kick I needed. I saw what others were doing and I knew I had to change my attitude if I wanted to produce work to a similar high creative standard. And it’s worked. I feel re-invigorated and I’m producing work that, on the whole, I’m pleased with. I’m not trying to win design awards, or get on the ‘Popular’ page of dribbble. In fact I never look at it, I always go straight to the ‘Everyone’ page. I’m not interested in the ‘All Stars’ ranking system (I couldn’t even tell you one name on it), I just want to be inspired by good work and offer helpful criticism and suggestions where appropriate. Initially it rankled that people seemed to blindly ‘like’ and ‘high-five’ the work of certain well known designers just because they’re well known, but you can either choose to be a part of that, or ignore it and get on with what I believe, and what the founders originally intended the site really to be about. So do I care anymore if anyone ‘likes’ my work – not really because for me it’s not about my work, it’s ultimately about being inspired by other people’s work, and if I can inspire a few other people along the way then so much the better.
Love it or hate it, I feel dribbble is a valuable and valid resource, and the design community would be a poorer place without it.
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