4 Lessons Designers Can Learn from Drag Queens

Let the music play!

4 Lessons Designers Can Learn from Drag Queens

Thoughts
Jane Lee
By 
January 23, 2023

Hey squirrel friends!

At a small studio, we champion all forms of creativity and many of us at the studio are obsessed with drag queens.

Even if you’ve  never watched RuPaul’s Drag Race, surely you’ve heard of the reality competition series in which contestants compete each week to be crowned the world’s next “Drag Superstar.”

As designers, there is a ton we can learn from these fabulous queens who are a beautiful embodiment of self-expression, identity, creativity, big wigs and even bigger attitudes.

Conquer Your Inner Saboteur

Imposter syndrome is real and in an industry that is so driven towards utility and perfection, at times can be hard to avoid. Some of my favourite moments from the show are watching the transformation of queens who once held themselves back due to self-doubt. Eventually they all manage to embrace their weaknesses as strengths and use those strengths to conquer their inner saboteur and advance in the competition.

It’s easier said than done, but whenever it creeps up just remind yourself with the wise words of Bianca Del RioNot today Satan, not today”.

Be Beautiful, Be You

In the 15+ seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race and a dozen spin-offs, there have been over 200 drag queens who have participated in the show. The most successful queens are always the ones who embrace their inner truth to overcome hardship, gain confidence and live their best life.

To give you examples, here are stories from my two favourite queens. Trixie Mattel’s identity has been an homage to Barbie dolls and country music. Having grown up on a farm and being told to stop acting so feminine, he used this experience to explore uncharted territory as a drag queen. Jinkx Monsoons’ identity as an “awkward theatre queen” is partially informed by her experiences as an outcast growing up in the Pacific Northwest and moving out on her own.

Like drag queens, we as designers also have the superpower of bringing our unique point of view in everything we do.

Be Curious

Drag queens are all about experimenting with their craft. They rarely stick to just one look or act, and they often take risks to create something new and fun for the fans and also for themselves. Designers should take note of this, and not be afraid to try something out of their comfort zone. Unleash that inner child and go play! Experiment with different design styles, physical mediums, wacky user flows, colours, or textures - it is all part of the creative process. The evolution and iteration is what encourages the natural growth of a project and our craft.

Support Each Other

While the tv show RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality competition, drag is rooted in community and belonging. You will see drag houses or families form, and strong sisterhood bonds where they hilariously “read” each other by throwing shade and witty insults. But most importantly they support and lift each other up. Design is no different. The craft of design is not an isolated creative process. Collaboration is key. It propels us to come up with new ideas and connect with one another as individuals and designers.

If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else.

Now go on, get to werk and slay the world. Or if you’re looking to tap into any of these skills like the most famous queens, make sure to sign up for our Identity Architecture Workshop! 😉

P.S. - Don’t forget to support your local queens!

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