Early in our careers, many of us designers compare our work to the best in the profession. We look at awards sites and top-tier creative agencies and strive to be that good at making design.
Comparison is valuable because it helps you get a neutral perspective about your skill. Especially for newer designers. But it can be damaging to even the most experienced of us.
The truth is that you will never be as good as other designers. Not like you want to be.
Because you didn’t see all the bad ideas they threw away while making that award-winning design.
You didn’t feel their self doubt as they put their Mac to sleep after another day of hard work without having found a single worthwhile concept.
All you saw was the awesome, finished thing they made.
And you act as if they made that amazing design in the blink of an eye, without the creative struggle or the hours of hard work that you endure every time.
You compare yourself to an impossible ideal.
Of course you fall short.
You will never, ever be that good at design, because no one is.
The truth is that every great designer you admire has horrible ideas that they throw away.
Every famous designer made ugly designs that no one else ever saw.
That is the nature creativity and none of us is immune.
I don’t care how experienced you are. If you’ve been a designer for 2 years or longer than my measly 10+ years.
You will make ugly design and then doubt yourself, and then you will see other designers doing amazing things and wish you could be that good.
But instead of expecting yourself to deliver perfect work the first time, every time, just keep doing your work. Keep designing.
You will get better at design.
And, if you keep going, someday you will meet a new designer who sees you like that.
You will meet a designer who can’t imagine being as good at design as you are.
Design's Iron Fist is a collection of essays with advice for both design learners and professional designers. It's been featured as one of the best free design books by the Creative Bloq and the AIGA.
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