The advice I’d give to new and emerging designers

A lot of people don’t talk about it, but being a designer is challenging. You throw your passion and energy into something, only to have a client turn around and ask if you can use a different shade of black for the font. Initially those first feedback sessions can be gutting, its enough to make you think you’ll never be a good designer, but the thing is you will if you work for it. So following from that here are my tips for new and emerging designers.

1. Know that talent is a lie

It’s extraordinarily common with any creative endevour to throw around the word talent. To call someone “talented” is a compliment, it means they are naturally good at something; but in all seriousness the word “talent” is a lie.  Talent implies that your abilities are set from birth and that someone else may be intrinsically better than you. But that’s not the case – what we call “talent” is actually just hard work. So next time you see a designer “more talented” than you are, step up your game challenge yourself and find ways to improve. You can always, always get better.

2. Learn to pick your clients

Understandably when you’re starting out as a designer you take any job you can get, not only does it build your portfolio, but any income is good. But my advice is: Choose clients who actually value your work – a word of warning, stay away from sites like fiverr or other cheap labour sites, or if you find you have no option but the fiverr route, place strict limitations on your work in terms of scope and number of revisions. Because the people that pay $5 for your logo design aren’t going to value your time and effort, in turn this will force you to devalue your own work and your worth as a designer – and the stress is just not worth it.

3. Be honest about your skills and limitations

Often in our profession people will bend the truth to unrealistic levels. “Sure I can code PHP!” they’ll say, believing they will be able to learn how to do it online, under scoping the amount of work it will actually take in the project and inevitably pissing off their clients. Though this is common sense in any line of work, it’s always better to be upfront with clients about your limitations. If a clients ask you to do a job you don’t think you can do, then be up front in the past I’ve even said “I don’t know how to do that, but give me a week, I’ll do some research and get back to you.” I’ve found that clients respond a lot more positively to this honesty, and if in the end I can’t do what they’ve asked me I’ll recommend a freelancer or contracted company whom might be able to help then.

I don’t regret the learning curves I went through learning these bits of advice but I would have loved to be told these directly in the first year of my career.