Archive | October, 2008

You must have confidence.

13 Oct

It always seems easier to believe in someone or something else: but, if you want to be a successful designer, you MUST believe in yourself. And you MUST believe in your work. Nothing can kill a great design quicker than lack of confidence. And great designs don’t deserve to die!

You must have confidence in yourself. Part of designing is selling you, your person, your skills and knowledge. If you cannot come across as someone who knows what they’re talking about, employers, coworkers and clients will never feel at ease with you. Design can be tricky intangible stuff. It’s often hard to describe, and even harder to explain. If you don’t have confidence in your ability and expertise, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone else who does. Which means it will be harder to find someone to pay you for your work. And that’s the whole point!

You must have confidence in your work. Not everything you design will be masterful or amazing. Not everything you make will be a true expression of your soul. Not everything you create will be worthy for submission in contests. And that’s okay. The core evaluation of your work should be about how it solved the design problem, how it met your client’s needs, and how it conveyed a message to someone. I would bet that no designer is 100% happy with 100% of their work. Not even Sagmeister. Not even Chip Kidd. Not even all the successful and incredible people at Pentagram. That’s to be expected. Greatness comes from a continued striving to be better and better, and from delivering solid, thoughtful work that makes the client happy. Once you see the distinction between the two, it becomes much easier to be confident in what YOU’RE producing.

Many young designers get caught up in the notion of becoming a rock star, or producing perfectly perfect work effortlessly, every single time. This is not very likely to be your reality. Instead, you should approach your work with determination and confidence, with an open mind to learning from every project, every mistake, and every client. And if you don’t feel very confident right now, FAKE IT! When you meet with someone to present your work, and you explain that it’s not very good, that the color is all wrong, that you wish you had more time, that someone else could have done a better job—you’re basically TELLING that person not to like your work either. Even if the work is good and does the job properly. This business is all about presentation, and you must present your work in the most positive light possible. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, PRACTICE it, until you do.

If you believe that something is impossible, it will be. The converse is also true. If you believe yourself capable of great work—and you’re willing to keep learning, evolving and improving—you will produce great work. Having the confidence to do so is the key.