Your Designs Are Not Your Own
Your Designs Are Not Your Own
Many people go into the field of design because they love art and they love computers, and they want to make money creating artwork. This is a common misconception about the field of design. I am even guilty of making this mistake. I won’t lie to you. My goal is to be as open and honest with my readers and visitors, and I make mistakes just like everyone else.
When I started going to college many years ago, I started out taking basic courses, satisfying requirements for English, Math, Science, etc. My goal was to get normal classes out of the way, and in the meantime I would figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One thing was certain- that I loved art. Another thing was certain, and that was the fact that the future was in computers. With this I started looking into how I could combine the two, and that’s how I stumbled into the world of graphic design.
I was elated that I had found a direction in my life and a career to work toward, so I started taking design courses. Design Fundamentals, Intro to Macintosh (because that is considered the industry standard), Design History, and one more that I forget off the top of my head. I was doing well in my courses and everything seemed to fit for me personally.
Then, one day our design fundamentals instructor, who was also the department head for the Graphic Design Department, asked everyone in the class why they had chosen design as a career path. As the ever enthusiastic student (I know, I know, you are probably rolling your eyes), my hand shot up and the professor called on me. Without hesitation, I declared, “I want to become a designer because I love art and I want to work with computers, so I combined the two and here I am!”
To my embarrassment, the professor’s expression changed from curiosity to concern, because at that point he realized that I didn’t even know my own purpose. He said “James, design isn’t just about creating art on computers,” which sparked an entire lecture on the purpose of a designer, what our role is, and the fact that our job is much more than just creating “pretty stuff” on computers.
The whole reason that I bring up this story is that many designers, even some that have been in the business for years, either don’t know or have forgotten their purpose. The point of design isn’t to serve our own desires to create beautiful works of art, but to solve real problems for our clients. They need us to create solutions catered to them, as well as their businesses, and they really don’t care about our idea of art and what we like.
I know this may shatter your ego, but it shouldn’t. They are paying you for a service and for your expertise. You can still be fulfilled in knowing that you have created an excellent logo/website/brand/identity for your client. That is where your fulfillment comes from, not serving your own purpose or ego. Below are some tips to help you stay on the right track:
1. Check your ego at the door. You won’t have an ego for long if your client’s business fails and bad word-of-mouth gets around about you and your services.
2. Don’t take criticism personally. Criticism isn’t an attack against you personally, the client just wants to make sure that your are creating something that is right for their business.
3. Ask yourself- Is your design solution subjective? Does it serve the needs of your client to the best of your abilities?
4. Remember that is it okay to use your personal style in your work. Chances are, that’s the reason that they hired you to begin with. Just remember where to draw the line, so that your style fits their needs.
5. It is okay to justify your approach if you truly believe it is the best solution for their company, but if you are just defending your work because you are offended that they don’t like it, you aren’t operating your business or providing your services in the best interest of your clients or their business. Take a step back and evaluate the situation.
6. The client always comes first. Your feelings and personal issues are irrelevant. They don’t make your client money or bring in new customers.
7. Be flexible and willing to compromise. You cannot be a design nazi, because your client and their business has to feel comfortable in their own shoes. A company can’t be something they aren’t. Find some middle ground where the client feels confident in the final design solution.
I hope these tips help you to serve your clients better. Keeping these things in mind will help you breathe easier, knowing not to take things personally. Remember that business is business, and your feelings or ego should always be separate from that. Remember your purpose as a designer is to solve problems and come up with the best solution.