I’m a graphic designer of almost 20 years, mainly doing branding and typography. I believe good design is function. I love communicative, well thought out and balanced design where every element has a clear and distinct purpose. Beauty is in the detail.
Nothing worth having comes easy. Countless late nights, anxiety, disagreements, bad planning and projects that never materialized. It’s a hard business. Especially if you want the best result possible every time. Perfection doesn’t exist, but I can’t help to strive for it. It’s very hard not to work when you have your own business. They got it all wrong: Choose a job you love, and you will work every day in your life.
It took me quite some time to realize what I need in my professional life to be happy. There’s a lot of variables and it takes time to fine tune everything to your liking. I started my own business because I wanted to have greater control over my time. Over what projects, colleagues and clients I work with. I’m a curious person and have a need to explore. So I work about half of my time at an ad agency as a design consultant and the other half on my own clients and personal projects. That way I get a little bit of everything.
I love solving problems. Finding the solution to something is incredibly rewarding. To then see it grow into its final form is everything. I love the process. Love the work.
Learn the art of feedback. When I started out in the early 00’s I did posters and flyers for the local music scene. I did quite a lot of work without ever really getting any feedback. It was just sort of accepted as it was. So when a friend told me that ”You suck at typography” I couldn’t really handle it. But as soon as my ego had recovered I realized he was right. It’s hard to take feedback. To not take it personally.
My father passed away a few years back and as I drew his funeral card I realized I needed a fresh pair of eyes. I sent it to a friend and fellow designer (that I send almost all my work to). He gave me honest and direct feedback on an incredibly sensitive subject. What he said, no matter what it felt like hearing it, made it better. I’ve made sure to surround myself with people that give me honest and direct feedback without ever holding back. I find that invaluable.
It’s equally important to practice giving qualitative feedback. It sharpens your eye and forces you to put your design thought into words.
Something I think we put too little emphasis on is energy. If your employee is a great craftsman but a pain to be around, that energy will eventually bring other employees down with them. I’d rather have a technically ok designer with great energy than the other way around. So much time and energy is wasted in office politics. On the other hand, if you’re working with passionate, driven and open people there is no end to what you can achieve together.
Other than that I think it’s important to have similar, but not necessarily identical, design philosophies. A similar voice. You need a shared foundation, a common goal, to make the work as precise as possible.