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Designers are whiners

I've worked with companies large and small over the last decade, and something I've noticed is this propensity of designers to complain. Some of the complaints include:

  • Not getting the final product to look exactly as they had envisioned it.
  • Having to go through many revisions and seeing 80% of your work unused.
  • Products you work on never launching.
  • Clients taking control of the design process.

I used to complain when I was younger as well. I think part of it may be  an element of youth/immaturity. I remember seeing an interview with Louis CK where he talks about how when he first started as a comedy writer, he wanted them to tell HIS jokes. And when you work with smaller companies, who don't understand or respect what you do, things can get frustrating. It's a new field that most people don't understand.

Here's the truth: Design isn't the designer presenting his sacred solution like stone tablets he received from the mountaintop. It's not art or self-expression, either.

Design Is Collaborative Problem Solving.

Someone hired you to solve their problem. They are paying you to solve their problem. Your need for self-actualization takes a backseat to their needs. If you want to express yourself, take up a hobby, like painting, or writing.

I think a lot of designers are too attached to their work. I learned long ago, when I was working at five-man companies for 9EUR per hour, that in order to survive and keep my sanity in this business, I had to detach from my ego, focus on the client needs, and use every revision they asked me to make as an opportunity to do my best work. It seems like a waste at first, but it's never wasted. You get to experiment with new ideas, and at some point in the future, with another client, that work that got shelved will get a chance to resurface in a new way. Also, most clients ask for those revisions because they really, truly don't have a designer's ability to see fully formed visual ideas in their mind.

Nothing You've Ever Done Will Be Wasted.

A few years ago, I was tasked with creating an online interface for a company that did eProcurement for the public sector in Germany. For example, if the city of Berlin wants to order 10 new fire trucks, they have to fill out all of these complex forms, and I was tasked with digitizing this process. That's about as boring as it gets, with a bunch of people that didn't really get design, and I was underpaid, and also very young at the time. To top it off, the entire design was shelved and the owner stole my best ideas and coded his own version of my ideas.

I learned some of the greatest lessons from that frustrating, mundane project. I learned how to work with people very different from me, and I learned how to make a mundane project interesting. I learned how to smile and move on when people screw me over. Now, I pride myself I'm able to turn any project into something interesting.

There Is No Project In The World That Can't Be Made Better With Passion, Creativity And Design Thinking.

So stop complaining. You have an amazing job.


Published by: Jamal Nichols in Brands

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