Just like every other human being, I am a work in progress. Last year, I got a promotion to Lead Graphic Designer at our parent company Lidyr Creative. During this time, I’ve learned so many “designer lessons” that translate into real life lessons. These lessons are very important, and I‘m still learning. The point is that each and every day and there’s plenty of lessons that each of us have to learn. There is a lesson you can learn in every difficult situation, but it’s up to you what you do in those moments.
With that said, here are seven real life lessons I learned as a Graphic Designer.
1.The customer is always right
There’s an old saying that “The customer is always right,” and this true even when you don’t feel in your heart that they are. When it comes to any business you always want to ensure that your customers are pleased with your services. You never want to leave a bad taste their mouth when it comes down to how you do business. Remember word of mouth is everything! When a client is not pleased, it’s best for the both of you to compromise ensuring that you both get what you want in the end. Even if you feel like the client is not right – a lot of times this is how you may feel – it is your duty to make sure you don’t leave the client feeling like you could’ve done better. So, it’s best to come up with some type of resolve before leaving this situation. I’m not saying let the client bully you in to doing what they think is best but come to a compromise. The best relationships work because there’s compromise on both ends.
2. Pay attention to details
You must learn to pay attention to the small details. If you are going to own a small business, one key way to set yourself apart from every one of your competitors is by going the extra mile and noticing the small details. Not paying close attention can cost you tremendously. Let me share a little story with you about a very serious mistake I made that could have ended up costing us a lot, like future work from this particular client. We recently designed and printed business cards for three of our client’s employees. Everything on the business cards was correct except for one major detail: each persons business card had the same email address! It was a HUGE MISTAKE! The worst part is that we actually printed and sent the cards to the client. No one on our team caught the mistake, but I was the lead designer on this project. Now, luckily the quantity printed was small, and we were able redesign and reprint the cards and get them to them quickly. And in the larger scheme of things a few days without business cards is not a big deal, but, what if this mistake was on a huge order of marketing materials or something that was needed immediately. We could very well had lost that client and that client could also not recommend us to other potential clients. Like I said earlier you never want to leave a bad taste in the clients mouth. WORD OF MOUTH MEANS EVERYTHING. And the entire issue could have been avoided if we would have taken 3 minutes and review the cards in detail. So, take your time, and pay attention.
3. Draft first, then create!
Whenever I get a new assignment I’m always excited and ready to dive right in. However, I’ve learned over time that sometimes it’s best to do a quick sketch. The sketch is not always my end result but it gives me direction and gives me an idea of what I may want the design to look like. I know you’re thinking well why not get right to it? You have to remember that all these electronics we use are just tools. There’s nothing like a rough draft in order to get your creative juices flowing. Whether your writing a blog post, designing a new logo, or launching a social media campaign. Spend time getting your ideas worked out on paper, or at least mentally. Plan first. Sometimes you can be excited to move forward with a new project or goal, but remember, proper planning prevents poor performance.
4. Get used to timelines.
Timelines are extremely stressful especially when it’s a short one. Just think about being in the classroom and your professor says “oh, and by the way you guys have a 12 page term paper due next week.” In your head you’re thinking, “I can’t do this in a week,” but you can. You just have to learn to be proactive and move at quicker, yet precise pace. Deadlines should be embraced, especially when running a business because you learn how to pace yourself and how much work you’re actually able to take. If you don’t but timelines and deadlines in place, projects can go on and on endlessly. This also helps with managing client relationships because they’ll know exactly when to expect the finished project.
5. Walk away from your work.
Some days I find myself in the zone and my creative juices just keep flowing. Other days I may hit a creative wall that I just can’t seem to knock down. Whenever I hit that wall I just take a step back and give myself a little time away from whatever I’m doing. As a designer, there are plenty of times I find myself overthinking my work, which does not help. It’s really just a waste of precious time. Once instead of taking hours to come up with an idea, I’ll have a breakthrough in just 30 minutes. This goes for any field that you’re in. If you can’t figure it out, if you’re feeling stressed out, if you want to give up, just take a step back. Don’t waste precious time trying to knock that wall down.
6. Grow a thicker skin.
Sometimes people are not always going like what you put out there and that’s ok. Critiques are not to make you feel like you can’t do it. You have to be confident in your work and except criticism openly. Criticism can make you better if you open yourself up to learning from it. I’m not saying don’t be confident in your work, but fresh eyes are good and will inspire you to do something different next time. Recently, I did a few logo renderings for a client and she hated them all. To be quite honest, I was a little bit offended. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a great designer. It just means I need to open up to seeing this client’s perspective. Sometimes clients have difficulty verbalizing their desires in technical terms. But feedback can be good, and help you to grow into a better business person.
7. There’s always more
No matter what you think you know, there’s always more to learn. Just get out there and do it. Life is all about lessons, it’s up to you to learn them.