5 hurdles: Community

Young designers tend to close themselves off from others so that they can operate within their own temple. However, this prevents them from collaborating with and bouncing ideas off of their peers. In design, if you hope to improve you must be open to receiving criticism and, at times, compromising your work. These collaborations invite as many perspectives as possible within a given project, which is a grand foundation for crafting meritorious work. Riding solo can lead to stagnation which can result in you becoming stuck in your own ways.

Strictly sticking to the one lane of operation can lead to close-mindedness, where you believe that your methods are flawless and your work is perfect. Having such a mindset inhibits skill development by not allowing necessary criticism into your life. Being willing to trust the advice of others in a supportive community setting will advance your career by opening you up to ideas that you alone could not have possibly considered.

The flip side of the coin is also something you want to be considerate of while working with others. Working with peers not only opens your mind to other ideas, but it also provides a litmus test for the quality of your work. Working alone doesn’t allow any sort of comparison with others to gauge the caliber of work you produce. This can allow doubt to creep into the minds of independent designers, who are unsure of how their designs stack up to the competition. Being involved in a group allows projects to be shared and discussed, with confidence being built as a result.

However, consulting others can become a slippery slope. By leaning too heavily on the influence of a community you can rob yourself of any individuality. While it’s helpful to receive criticism and pick the brains of others, it’s important to not lose yourself in the process. Remain confident in who you are and use your strengths to continue blazing your own unique trail.

Despite what your mother says, you won’t be right all the time and many times the most beneficial thing for your career is for someone to tell you that you’re wrong, or not quite right. Practicing humility and learning to operate in a community is an integral part of growing your creative capabilities. Taking advantage of the various perspectives within a design community and embracing the opportunity for growth as a young creative will have you ahead of the curve by leaps and bounds.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

5 hurdles: You won’t be satisfied with your work

Hindsight will always be 20-20 and especially so with design. When looking back at previous work you will notice aspects of your work that you could have improved on. Many designers tend to be perfectionists so it’s important to keep in mind that you may not be able to meet the lofty expectations you place on yourself.

It’s often difficult to be entirely pleased with your work because design is usually not self-expression. Granted, there are a few designers who are known for designs which express themselves, but they are not the norm and operate in niche industries. Most designers operate in a market of providing a service to others by helping clients express themselves. Therefore it’s important to match your expectations with the client’s so that when you meet or exceed their expectations, you will surpass your own as well. While you may still look back and see changes you could have made, knowing that the client was pleased with your work should remove any stress of personal dissatisfaction.

Designers can be their own biggest critic, but they owe it to themselves to ease up on the reigns. If standards are set too high to the point that they are unattainable, discouragement sets in and lifelong dreams can melt away into impossibility. The lesson here is that when shooting for the moon, realize that the journey there is a cultivating one. Each project you complete grows your talent, allowing you to move closer and closer to your goals. Understand the value in the mistakes of your formative years and cut yourself some slack as you learn.

Now for a twist: To a degree, you shouldn’t ever be satisfied with your work. This may seem contradictory to the rest of the writing, but understand that the day you are entirely content with your work is the day you stop growing as a designer. To be the best, you should always strive to become more proficient at your craft, sharpening your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.

Poor communication, differing visions, and crystal clear hindsight all contribute to a designer’s dissatisfaction. The hope here is that you are learning through each project, and allowing that dissatisfaction to fuel your fire for improving. As time passes you will find yourself becoming better equipped to provide increasingly impressive work.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Jonathan Simcoe

5 Hurdles: You won’t make a ton of money right away

Too often we see this being made into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Many early designers have school loans to pay off or other expenses and as a result are hoping to land a lucrative design job right away that would make even Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly mascot, turn green with envy. Au contraire my friend! Let’s face it, you won’t be raking in the dough right off the bat, but that’s not really why you’ve entered this industry, is it?

As much fun as it would be to equate your services to owning Park Place and Boardwalk, prompting clients to shell out bags of money for your work, that’s not how it will be right away. You should be entering any job because you love it, not for the money. Granted, nobody wants to work for free, but the order of priorities is important to be mindful of in any case. While there are those who do seek fortune over passion, perhaps even a few find it, this is a niche approach and not one we encourage pursuing.

Prioritizing funds in your creative endeavor is a slippery slope to tread. Compromising your work to fit into whatever job provides the most income is internally wrong and unsatisfying. You consequentially lose touch with your original desires and begin moving further and further away from your dreams and aspirations. It’s important to recognize that money is a tool to help you continue doing what you love; not the other way around.

Design exists in a variety of industries and exploring them is an often overlooked method of finding additional sources of income to help fuel your drive. Interior design, material design, and game design are all examples that are a stone’s throw away that you may benefit from expanding your horizons. Ultimately, if the word “design” exists in the title, it’s an occupation worth considering. Who knows, as you branch out into new jobs you may even find your next passion.

Design is born from blending a labor of love and a desire to help others. For us, anything otherwise is criminal. With enough time and experience, you will notice the quality and quantity of your clients will improve, in turn growing your income, boosting your career even further. In the end, design positions are actually very lucrative fields to pursue. Your design expertise is incredibly valuable and clients are willing to hand over big bucks to acquire your services.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

 

5 Hurdles: Creative Block

Working in an industry that relies on constant creativity and fresh thinking naturally entails encountering creative blocks from time to time. Deadlines, disagreements, and empty coffee pots will have you banging your head on the table searching for ideas. As sad as it may seem, getting stuck doesn’t discredit you as a creative, it happens to us all. Even in these sad times know that there are steps you can take to help rebound from these mental stumbles, and best of all they don’t involve any form of head trauma.

 

First and foremost, accept that your brain falling into quicksand is a normal part of the process. There will be times when the flow of creativity slows to a trickle, which is where you can either remove yourself from the situation or break down the project into manageable, bite-sized chunks. Getting out of the workspace is certainly an underutilized method of becoming inspired and it opens doors to new perspectives within your work. Adding this variety into your life jumpstarts your brain into being creative again. Conversely, you could stay involved in your work but instead focus on smaller portions of the project that are easily processed. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to change your approach in some way whenever you get stuck.

 

Once it’s time to get back on track, remind yourself of your motivations and your personal expectations. Getting lost on tangents unrelated to the project can leave you wasting work on something other than the original plan. Equally exhausting, setting the bar too high for yourself can create a self-inflicted sense of doubt. Don’t allow your mindset to falter, and once you’re ready to return, buckle in and confidently chip away at the problem until the finished product is revealed.

 

To safeguard against future fumbles, remove any unnecessary stressors from your work environment, such as trivial distractions and inefficient multitasking, and allow yourself a workspace that is conducive to creativity. At the same time, it’s important that you are aware of necessary stressors that are unavoidable and commonplace in the work process, such as time, design quality, and client expectations. Once you recognize that they will always be present they begin to no longer loom over you, and instead their role in the process is understood and can be accommodated.

 

Over time creative blocks will seem less like mountains and more like speed bumps, hardly even affecting your workflow.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Jonathan Simcoe

5 hurdles: Client Relationships

People are comparable to snowflakes, in that no two are alike. Therefore, since the clients you come into contact with are all unique, learning the nuances of each one will be a boon to your success. Doing so allows you to better fine-tune projects to best fit the client’s needs. At the same time, having a strong relationship with those who you work with will offer you invaluable clarity and peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your work to the fullest.

 

Only after you’ve taken the time to analyze your clients are you able to accurately decide which relationships you want to continue and which are better off ending. What we often come in contact with are two types of clients: Those who understand your expertise and are enjoyable to work with and those who see a designer’s skillset as strictly a means to an end.

 

Many times when you come into contact with clients it will be immediately apparent their intentions in regards to working with you. If the discussion sticks strictly to the results of the project and you can’t seem to get a word in, you are likely dealing with one of the clients we believe you should probably avoid. The idea of a client who seems passionate about results and getting work done may get you excited to work, but over time these clients become a looming presence that only brings stress and frustration to your work process. When clients pay little attention to your opinions, needs, and work process, the relationship tips to one side and is bound to fall.

 

At this point you may be thinking that clients who divert control entirely to the designer are flawless clients to pursue, to which we cautiously affirm. We use caution even with these easy-to-work-with clients because many times the design freedom causes designers to overlook other flaws. From our experience, these types of clients are typically non-profits or churches that won’t have the same budgeting options as other businesses. For this reason, it becomes a slippery slope for designers to exchange their services for less than fair pay or delayed payments.

 

Every designer deals with clients, so when the door opens for you to begin taking offers, be sure to take the time to pick ones who are willing to collaborate, appreciate your expertise, and ultimately are people who you enjoy working with.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Seemi Samuel