In recent years, I’ve noticed a small yet distinct culture change in the design community around sharing content with others. It has been such a subtle change over time, that I wondered if it was coming from my own imagination. There was a time (not that long ago), where posting libraries or file assets online wasn’t going to win any huge points with your design peers. Files were often either shared on scammy looking sites with tons of ads and newsletter signup ‘paywalls’ or they were filled with ads themselves. That isn’t to say that the intentions of these folks sharing the files was always less than virtuous, but rather that the platforms just seemed to make the entire practice feel…a bit off.
Looking around today, there are things like the Figma Community page which offers curated listings of a wide variety of useful assets, guides and templates. The quality is great, the experience is breezy (no ads, or paywalls) and I’ve noticed something interesting in my workflow lately. Instead of being embarrassed for using something someone else made, I’ve started seeing these pages like a Github repos. My perception has shifted to seeing them as tools which I can use to scaffold off of, or quickly solve a problem I don’t have time to solve.
I reached out to Vic, a designer with multiple popular resources and asked her about her experiences in the community and what she sees as the next step for designers sharing their content.
What made you first decide to share your files and what has the experience meant to you?
Vic: “One of the motivations to share the things I create was my path to design itself. I had no design education, no access to design resources or mentoring. I share resources today because I want to pave the path for early-in-career designers, for career changers, and for people who have difficulties entering the industry.
It is multifaceted, and I’d be dishonest if I told you that the validation I get from the community doesn’t make me feel good. But ultimately it makes my time here worthwhile. It’s a way to pay back your karmic debt.”
How has your perception of resource sharing adjusted and changed overtime and where you see this sort of thing going next?
Vic: “What was a hobby became a strong conviction. I like to think that open-source takes us closer to a place of post-scarcity. It’s a little utopian, but it helps me keep it up. Being able to contribute comes from a place of great privilege. I volunteer my time so that the next generation of designers doesn’t have to fight off the same trauma and can focus on building a healthy community.”
Figma wasn’t the first to create the ability to add libraries and templates to your files. Sketch has had this capability for quite some time through their library system, and definitely set us on the course to where we are today. My hope is that the tools continue to develop in a positive way where designers feel empowered to not only share and use the designs of others, but also become a place where folks from all backgrounds can create and build together. Looking at the projects on Vic’s Figma Community page, I think we are headed in exactly that direction.