I didn't find my calling until I was in my early twenties. You can imagine the amount of crazy and bad part-time jobs that I had during my teenage years. My first official design job was quite mad, to be honest. I worked in a small print shop and my boss had a quite toxic attitude to design - he would warrant the quality of the design work based on the size of the client pay. It was a terrible way to see how badly the clients were treated and how little damn the guy was giving. I didn't stay for long but one thing that I took away with me, it was the passion for making every single creative project matter regardless of the budget or client profile. Every creative opportunity is a chance to make a difference and aim for the best possible results. Now when I give people a chance at the beginning of their career, I make it my utmost priority to instate this mindset right from the start. Being indifferent or uninterested isn't going to be helpful to anyone. We should aim for the stars, every day!
It could be quite misleading to expect any potential qualities from clients we haven't met yet - just as many single people make the same mistake when they wish to have xyz character qualities from their ideal partner they would like to meet. Everyone is different. This is why I don't believe in making a list of 'dream' clients or brands that I want to work with. The magic is in new opportunities from unexpected places, brands and new clients. I believe that every client has got the potential to be a 'dream client'. However, they won't come knocking on your door introducing themselves as 'dream client'. People on my client roster are now my dream clients. We have managed to make something out of nothing, against all odds, we have delivered the goods. This is the magic. A dream client is our ally who is willing to put their trust and funds in our hands and let us lead them to the great places they never knew it exists.
In the last few years, I've started up my mentorship offering to those who reach out and ask for help. I am open to any questions from students and up-and-coming designers who seek help and guidance. We normally run six months worth of focus sessions. We set out the goals and plan on getting them done. Although our personal goals and dreams can change over the time so it's the importance of treating every chapter of our lives with meaning and purpose. If we spend time wisely then we can reflect on it without any regrets. This is why I encourage anyone I work with to set out a plan and vision they truly believe in. They need to understand the fighting need to get stuff done. As I didn't have a mentor, it makes me happy to be able to help and give back.
My main 'passion' project is the book series of journals on creative direction and graphic design, titled Book of Ideas Vol.1 + Vol.2. Since the beginning of my freelance career, I have been making small showcase books to share with my clients, existing or new. Some books were sold through my website too. After a few rounds of making these folio lookbooks, I was ready to release a fully fledged book title which is aimed at my peers and contemporaries. I decided to share my creative philosophy and experiences from the last many years of my career. At first, this was just an honest try to write, design and publish a book instead of trying to get a book deal. Now, two and a half years later, I've got a publishing business with two popular titles and a big plan to release many more books in the future. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction to know that I have helped other creatives to push themselves, to be open about their hopes and fears, even to be able to speak up about their anxieties and mental health issues. I can only write about what I know and experienced. It's a very honest account of my life as a creative in this fascinating yet difficult industry. Both of my books are available from stores like Amazon, Book Depository, Wordery and others worldwide.
Be yourself and don't spend too much time looking around what others doing that might be better. I feel a lot of people waste a ton of time trying to emulate their heroes, idols or even peers and then only to find themselves with a body of work that isn't original or of any other use. It's not their true expression, it's only mimicking styles and techniques. Ok, just like we learn to play a musical instrument by trying to play along with the music we admire, we can learn such way to pick up skills. However, no budding musicians go out there and claim to have written 'War Pigs' by Black Sabbath. This is why practise and output mean two different things. As a graduate, potential clients or employees will buy into you as a person first. This is why being yourself showing your personality, however introvert, quirky and different you might be, this is what should be on a show. We like people of similar belief and they like us back. Be yourself and become the next pillar of the design industry.
The industry, on the whole, should look more after its own people. The undue pressure it puts on many people in lower and upper ranks to keep churning out ideas and work that never make the light of the day, that can be crushing even the strongest minds. There aren't many programmes to help people deal with burnout and mental health issues. We need to establish one.
Majority of creative businesses are based on profit and continuous success. I get it, there needs to be enough money to keep the lights on and to keep everyone paid up. This can be hard from the business side of things. It brings on a different challenge. However, it then becomes an unhappy environment. Pure creativity gets shoved aside and the production line starts rolling. We need to make sure our people are at their best. Our industry should aim to keep itself healthy from inside out.
The year that became the perfect yet fantastic storm.