I write about design, freelancing, product making, and more. I also post some of the articles from my weekly design newsletter, Critique, here. To get all my articles, sign up for the newsletter.
Work smarter. Keep pushing. Be more productive.
These are the mantras we follow while doing creative work, but sometimes they accomplish the opposite of what we want.
Do you dream of opening an agency or becoming a creative director?
Many designers claim this at some point during our careers, and the dream is certainly exciting. We imagine working for prestigious clients, having a professionally designed office space downtown, and living the good life designing creative, amazing things.
If you could open your own agency or become a creative director you would get all kinds of creative freedom. You could fight for the important aspects of creative work and finally have control over the final product.
But I’m here to tell you, that dream might not work out the way you hope…
Are you a real designer if you didn’t graduate from design school?
With so many ways to learn about design and so many designers describing ourselves as “self-taught”, do you need a special piece of paper from a university to prove you are a designer?
You obsessed for hours on end for weeks. You lost sleep thinking about it. You tried every possible angle and approach.
And stretching your abilities to the limit, you made the best design you possibly could. At the time, is was the absolute best thing you had ever made.
But a few months later, you tried to forget about it.
Do you ever feel embarrassed by your old work? Here’s why you shouldn’t.
Most freelancers burn through clients faster than King Arthur loses knights (especially if you’re enjoying the Monty Python version).
A thriving consulting business needs a constant stream of new clients, after all. However, no matter how efficient you are, earning that constant stream of new work gets exhausting.
Instead of trying to book single, one-off projects, pick your favorite clients and guide them towards ongoing work and a long-term relationship. Start offering retainers to the people you enjoy working with most.
Have you ever wondered what everyone else thinks when they see us designers venting on sites like Clients from Hell and Reddit?
Sometimes a client/boss will change your design for the worse after the project ends. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
You have bad designs floating around with your name on them.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
What’s the ethical thing to do when a client is messing up a design you made for them?
Here’s what you can do when a design changes behind your back.
Why is designing a website for yourself or writing your professional bio so much more difficult than client work?
Why are there so many designers with terribly out-dated portfolio websites?
Why are there so many articles on the web about “Personal branding”?
The answer for each of these question is the same: humans have a blind spot.
When I was a kid, I’d use words like “sellout” when a band I liked found bigger success or when other people started listening to them.
Looking back, of course, this was a childish and arrogant way to think. More people discovering great art is only a positive thing.
As an adult and having been a working designer for over a decade, I still see that same attitude directed towards other creative professionals, not only musicians.