When you join a startup you expect to wear many hats, so when asked about your diverse skills during the interview process, you may fabricate a little thinking (or hoping) that you’ll never have to use them. Even if you’ve used Adobe® Photoshop many times, it does not make you a designer.
Don’t get your ego involved.
That moment when you create that first piece of work you love and are so proud of, it’s magical isn’t it? The sad fact of the matter is, not everyone will love it as much as you do.You’re going to get a lot of critiques throughout your career, but you must remember they aren’t personal attacks, they are just aesthetic preferences.Your first design won’t always be your best, and neither will your second. Designers have such a specific eye for minor details that many cannot see, keep in mind your job is to make your boss happy. There will always be more chances to blow them away on a different project.
Pick your battles wisely.
Almost every project you work on will be crowdsourced (design by committee) and that’s never easy. Arguing about changing the color or layout of a particular project will never be worth it. Working in an industry where creativity is king, you will find there will always be disagreements on what color looks best, or what font is most appropriate. You do not want to be the reason all the projects take longer to finish because you are too stubborn to make the background yellow, instead of green. If you are dead-set on that green Helvetica, create two. It will be easier for you to prove your point by comparison. Being a designer is all about the little victories. Take what you can get knowing it has nothing to do with your skills, but someone else’s personal opinion.
Don’t over (or under) sell your skills.
There is a fine line in design (pun intended) between having design skills and having once watched someone else do it. Trust me, within the first few minutes of watching you work, people will be able to distinguish which one you are. You really can’t get away with faking it in this industry, so don’t oversell yourself. If you don’t have the working knowledge you need for a particular job, don’t apply with the assumption you will gain the skills on your own. Choose something more entry level so you can gain experience and develop your portfolio.
As quickly as someone will be able to tell if you are overselling, underselling is just as transparent. Design, as well as many other creative careers, is an industry with high skilled individuals who don’t necessarily do it for the money, but because they enjoy it so much. As a result you get people who work hard to consistently develop their skills and find inspiration in anything and everything.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Your boss (or client, same/same) can’t read your mind; be vocal with them. You were hired for a reason, and as much as you don’t want to create discord on the team, you are the expert in this area and you should behave like one. You and your opinion are valued members of the team, when you see an issue with something, tell them. You can avoid the snowball effect of larger problems in the future. Being an effective communicator creates trust between you, your team, and your manager that will allow you more freedom down the line.
Spell check is your best friend.
We would say spell check on your computer is the best thing since sliced bread, but Adobe Creative Suite®, Microsoft Office®, Apple®… So let’s just say, aside from the products that make our jobs possible, spell check is the next best thing. After staring at a project hour after hour, day after day, everything starts to run together, including words. And let’s be honest as many times as we write it, there will always be that one word that looks wrong every single time. Use spell check, you’ll thank yourself later and avoid any embarrassment from managers and clients.
Fresh eyes always help.
Sometimes all you need is a break. Take a step back, work on something else, and come back to it later might be all you need to see what you are missing. Staring at anything for an extended period of time makes everything look wrong, especially in creative industries because you are trained to see the smallest details. When even the smallest line is out of place, it is all you can focus on, but to the client or a manager it will look like a complete picture. Don’t let your frustrations get the best of you, ask a team member or someone else you trust to take a look and offer an opinion.
Whether you’re a design pro, web design whiz, or just starting out in your creative career, check out the creative design jobs available on our site in your area (or for working remotely)!
(GIFs source: Giphy.com)