Designing Something You Hate?

I ♥ Graphic Design

I ♥ Graphic Design by Craig Keeling

How do you deal with that tough design project?  The one that you probably shouldn’t have taken onto in the first place.  Or it’s the part of the project that you knew would be least fun. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to work on this project.  This could even apply to a full time job or your whole career.  Here’s a few tips on how to deal

Stay positive.

Your positive attitude can be infectious. If it’s that project where the client is never happy, maybe it’s just that they don’t know what happiness looks like.  Point out the positive elements to yourself and others.  Don’t spend your time away from it complaining. Or at least limit your complaints. Your family likes you better when you’re focused on the upside.

Planning.

A plan can make something you hate turn into at least something you can bare until the check clears. Figure out an escape plan, detailing all the steps from here until the end of the project.  If you have an exit route in place, you might find that it’s not so bad after all.

Find time for what you enjoy.

If you could afford to quit, you probably would have by now.  You agreed to the work for a reason.  But it shouldn’t consume your life.  Take the time out of every day to do something that truly makes you happy and takes your mind away to your happy place.

Learn from the experience. 

Next time you’re faced with taking up work you don’t want to do, remember this day.  Do whatever it takes to never have to tackle the nightmare project again.  If your full time job is one nightmare after another, it’s time to move on.  Figure out your exit plan.  Fire your trouble clients.  Get away from the boss you hate. Don’t get away from one situation just to end up in a similar situation elsewhere.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in a creative field?

I remember what it was like, a new designer fresh out of high school starting my first job doing typesetting and design for a local business.  If there is anything I would share, it’s that you can learn from anyone and everyone around you. Be a sponge and don’t dismiss anyone young or old, new or not.  There’s so much to learn no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Now I’m working on local magazines for a nationally known company and have creative freedom and lots of fun at work. And I’m still pushing harder than ever to grow and get better.  Chime in with your own advice and experiences.

  • “The advice I would give someone who is just starting out in a creative field would be to know exactly where your end goal is and how you plan to get there. Creative fields are difficult, competative and very stressful. If you don’t know where you want to end up or even how to get there, you’ll be eaten alive.”

    Tearra Marie (@AhorashiiKagome) is an inspiring singer/song writer, actress, and novelist who blogs daily her writings and struggles in the music and publishing world at AhorashiiKagome.livejournal.com

  • “The *most* important thing is to launch stuff ASAP. Success is mostly a numbers game — the more you try, the more likely a successful outcome.”

    Paul Singh (@paulsingh) is an entrepreneur and advisor to startups doing interesting stuff. He blogs at www.resultsjunkies.com/blog

  • “Find out from other freelancers how much things cost and what to expect before diving in. Save up your money for the most necessary. Don’t go into debt. Don’t pay for the un-necessities. Seek the really good clients by requiring contract and down- payment requirements before beginning. It is easier to keep a good client on by treating them well and doing a great job for them, than to try to get a new one.”

    Lisa C. Jackson (lisajackson.biz) is owner of a Company Identity Solopreneurship, Lisa Jackson Design, and helps small local businesses to succeed.

Chime in with your own advice and experiences.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Introducing the Uncanny Creativity Podcast

Last week, the first episode of the new Uncanny Creativity Podcast was released.  It’s a productivity podcast for artists, designers and other creative professionals. This is a rebranding and update of the SketcheeBook Podcast, so technically this is episode 21 and I’ve kept the old numbering scheme.  You can subscribe to the show for FREE through iTunes or in a reader by rss.

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, check out my article on how to listen to podcasts

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How to Make Your Graphic Design Portfolio

If you’re working steadily in a graphic design job or just starting to look for work, it’s always a good time to have an up to date portfolio. The hard part is to figure out how the pieces fit together.

I’ve already discussed the basics of what should go on the pages in Tips for a More Perfect Design Portfolio. In that article, I explain why to choose your absolute best work, how to use the work of others as inspiration, and how to use an unexpected twist to make yourself stand out. Building a perfect portfolio is a process that continues over and over again throughout your career.

How to choose a portfolio case

12 Steps to a Super Graphic Design Portfolio from Youthedesigner.com starts us off by telling us about the case. Choose carefully and consider how you want to present your work. Think about yourself in an interview or with a client. Find a case that fits a style of presentation that works for you.

My first portfolio was a leather case with sheets of thick photo paper printed pieces. Especially for interviews with multiple people, passing around the works in my portfolio and letting people handle them and really look at them had went over well. These were designs for magazine layouts and for advertisements so it mimicked the original experience.

For a later portfolio, I chose to use a 12 x 12″ scrapbook binder. It came with removeable sheets and a very slick looking cover that made for a very professional cover. Check out crafts stores and office supply stores for case and presentation ideas and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

How to present your portfolio

AIGA has a great article on “Presenting your portfolio by Steff Geissbuhler of Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. It’s both from the point of view of someone who hires designers and from a design who has been there himself.

How to choose what to present

Brian Scott writes in “How to Create Your Freelance Graphic Design Portfolio” that you should include your best work and only your best work. I agree. It’s better to show five perfect pieces than to show eight that include work that you aren’t happy with. Your enthusiasm about every piece in your portfolio has to be there.

Tips to Create an Effective Graphic Design Portfolio from Twit Taboo emphasized the importance of variety. Show off different concepts and skills in your work. I’d add that you should make sure that each skill is somehow relevant to the specific position and company you’re applying to.

Building Design Portfolios: Innovative Concepts for Presenting Your Work (Design Field Guide)

Building Design Portfolios by Sara Eisenman tackles how to build your portfolio and, for hiring managers, it tackles how to look at portfolios critically. It contains a series of interviews with leaders in the field, provides inspiration and shows real world portfolio.

Graphic Design Portfolio Strategies for Print and Digital Media

Graphic Design Portfolio Strategies for Print and Digital Media discusses portfolio building for graphic design students. How do you take your student work and present it for employers, graduate schools and fellowships? This book tackles that question with illustrated examples of successful student portfolios.

The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design

 The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design is another book helping students transition into becoming professionals. This puts the portfolio in the context of resumes, interviews, and cover letters

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.