Chasing Natalia Ilyin

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If you haven’t already dropped a 20-spot on Natalia Ilyin’s Chasing the Perfect, it might behoove you to take a peek at the book’s first chapter, posted on the Metropolis website as “Mediations on Modernism.” Ilyin sets up her half memoir, half manifesto like this:

I felt bad. I felt wrong. I felt low. For you see, I am a graphic designer. And as a graphic designer, I am supposed to ride the crest of the technological wave while creating the information pathways of the future. I am supposed to provide workable solutions to communications challenges while educating the client about sustainability issues. I am supposed to lecture about the damning effects of the corporate control of the media to Seattle ceos over Asian-fusion lunches at Wild Ginger.

But I don’t do these things. True, every once in a while I get in a good jab about using less paper. And I can get riled and quote Voltaire at big meetings if I eat too many of those little cheese Danish from the coffee-service tray. But mostly I just talk with designers and work with Web engineers, and go back and forth about copy with writers, and listen to the problems my clients are having with recurring lower-back pain or the new intranet. I spend much of my day hearing from accounts-payable people about where in the bill-paying cycle my invoice landed and why that will mean a two-week wait before a check can be cut. This is what it means to run a design business.