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Choosing Graphic Design Work that Matches Your Values

How do you make sure that your work fits in line with your personal ethics? Although this is a post targeting designers and artists, almost every working person deals with this issue at some point. You might have seen a colleague who thinks it’s “just business”. And chances are you don’t trust this person, even if it seems like they’re a fine upstanding citizen outside of work.  When taking a job, full time or client based, do you think about the clients ethics?

What are work values?

These are the set of beliefs that you’ve acquired over your life. Mom and dad instilled you with a sense of right and wrong.  There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to do something you’re fundamentally against to survive or because you’ve agreed to a job you don’t agree with.

Evaluating Your Client

First of all, let’s qualify this by saying you should understand your potential employer. Go in with an open mind.  Sure this company may have a bad reputation in your industry for it’s practices, but without discussing it with them and doing your research you don’t really know if it’s a good fit. If you’re hoping for repeat business, ask your client about any potential for more work.

Core Ethics

Take the time right now to do a self assessment. Figure out what your core ethics are. Perhaps it’s important to you that you have a certain amount of autonomy with your projects.  Accept nothing less.  There are clients out there that will trust you to complete the work.  I’ve designed marketing projects where I’ve heard very little from the client and they’re happy with the end results. Your dream client is out there.  Imagine that you want autonomy and have no part in the decision making process. How upset will you be?  Imagine if you thrive in variety and have to do a monotonous job.

In the end, you won’t be truly happy with your work unless you’re following your own morality. It’s not just business, it’s a huge part of your life.  Figure out what’s really important and use that knowledge in your decision making.  Say no to the clients and career moves that don’t match up.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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