About about

It's the same every morning. I plonk myself and my coffee down at my desk and harry the computer awake with a random smash of keys. And then there it is, waiting for me, staring at me from the top of my to do list.


It's been a priority for years, rolled over from a thousand yesterdays; for some reason the uppercasiness never quite insistent enough. Perhaps indelibility has robbed it of all authority – it needs doing, but I've coped this long without it being done, so maybe the doing of it can be postponed a little longer. Would another day without a few words really be so bad?

I edit and update and tweak the images on my site constantly, forever fussing over my little shop window, but I always stall when it comes to actually writing about myself. It's completely at odds with a lifelong default of self-deprecation – ideally my about page would just be the word "sorry" written in very small, faint text. I put more effort into my 404 page – it's more important that potential clients get lost than learn any thing about me. I suspect this may not be a particularly effective approach to self-promotion.

So where to start? You're meant to boil everything about yourself down into a tidy little paragraph or two, something that will give a passing art director a bit of context for your work. So should I stick to an industry-standard approach or try to stand out with something a bit unique? What do they actually want to know about me? Anything? Everything? Should I mention every client, or just a select few? How far back do I go? Should I share my particular design philosophy? Do I have a particular design philosophy? Does anyone care about my previous employment or qualifications or age or where I live? Are words even enough? Do I need a photo? What shall I wear in the photo? What me should I be projecting? Amiable? Wise? Coquettish?

And then there's the big question that all Aboutists must wrestle sooner to later: which perspective to stump for. Go for first person and risk sounding like a complete egomaniac – I did this, I am this, I do this, look at me, look at me. Write in third person and sound like … well, a regular maniac. Who is this disembodied narrator hovering over your work? Morgan Freeman? Sandi Toksvig? Oh right, it's just you, hiding behind a curtain and putting on a serious voice.

If you are going to distance yourself, perhaps the best approach is to not write anything at all. Get someone else to do it. Rather than committing to one version of events, Daniel Eatock's site has multiple biographies from various events and publishers. Details appear and overlap and are retold over time, making his About page more like a folk tale than anything else. Meanwhile Carly Ayres has gone one further and removed herself from the equation entirely, her website simply a Google document for anyone to edit. This may be going a tad too far for my liking.

No, subjecting myself to all this biographical reductionism and self-reflection and shameless braggadocioing is too painful for a page that literally some people may possibly skim one day. And so once again I shall retreat to my fallback position of “this is my name, this is my email address, what the hell more do you want from me” and hide everything else under my good old reliable bushel. Back on the to-do list it goes.

See you tomorrow, WRITE ABOUT PAGE.