“No matter how many times your brilliant, amazing work is rejected for whatever arbitrary, dopey, frivolous reason, there is always another brilliant, amazing solution possible.” —Bob Gill in Graphic Design as a Second Language

I’ve never felt at home in a chemical laboratory, not even during the few years I spent working in one.

It wasn’t fear of equipment. It wasn’t the tedium of monitoring dials, numbers, flames. It wasn’t even that the emergency showers were operated by pull chains without drainage holes under them.

It was the undeniable fact that there was usually one way to make something correctly, and a bajillion ways to do it wrong. Every mote of stardust had to be aligned, every step had to be executed precisely. Precision is necessary for replicability. This is the way it should be. It must be the way it should be.

But the difference between science and art sits somewhere between the firm creases of a lab coat, the splotches of an artist’s smock, and the impassive folds of a graphic designer’s black t-shirt (yep, we ALL have them). Why was Mastercard’s logo originally designed the way it was? Why was today’s New York Times Magazine laid out that way? Why are the letters on your keyboard exactly THAT large? Why does Elmer’s Glue-All have a bright orange nozzle?

There are other possible solutions. They could be even better—better at guiding a specific behavior, or better at delighting someone.

We’ll never find all the ways.

And that should be encouraging.