Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Designer

This isn’t a post steeped in regret, pause or grudge. Rather, I entered this business quite deliberately, with much enthusiasm and energy.  I never imagined having a job that I truly loved and for which I had Purpose.

I also never had a mentor or Master Designer to work under and learn. My approach has always been to engage industry colleagues for advice. But short of that:

  1. I know when to put the “paintbrush” down and just ship my work, so the world can see it.
  2. I embrace and encourage failures as opportunities to forge ahead – difficult for me learning early on that failure was a synonym for shame.
  3. Have a firm grip on my tribe|audience|peeps who “get me” and, to some extent, I look past the rest.
  4. And I always do remarkable work, with surprise and delight.

I Wish I’d Known How Lucky I Was

I was born with some big talents, maybe in balance without others, like sports. Nevertheless, I pick up skills very quickly and have natural talent for getting things right in a room.

I was one of those students who finished a quiz, exercise or assigned reading early and then had time leftover to myself to read, draw, create. It took me a while to shake that pattern in life, rushing through the dull to reward myself with the Purpose. Back when I worked for the corporate Man, my business was built on mountains of those surplus hours. So I didn’t need to plunge head first into a creative field without a net.

Until I realized I had to and did.

I Wish I’d Known How Demanding People Could Be

Like a bad, bad date, my first run-in with a terrible match came early, thank god. He was happy being unhappy and I couldn’t see that in my efforts to please, until much later. So we parted ways but not without scars.

I attribute much of my success now to knowing my tribe well enough to politely decline those projects and to further recognize a fabulous and joyful, client to welcome them in.

I Wish I’d Known The Process I Know Now

It took me quite some time to develop a way to work that leads a project gracefully from one step to the next. I don’t just create and sell things, but a Promise that I’ll deliver the beauty I say I will in a reasonable increment of time.

Details add up quickly and there’s little room for disorganization, obscurity or uncertainty.

Having a step by step process ensures each project runs in the same manner and that successes are repeatable. Clients love it because they know what comes next, and we love it because we’re able to predict conditions well in advance.

I Wish I’d Known I’d Be Tackling Money Discussions Head-on

I’ll just dramatize this one:

ME: “What have you set aside to spend on this project?” Nice way of saying, “What’s your budget?”

CLIENT: “You tell me. I don’t know what things cost.”

ME: “A lot … But let me clarify by asking another question: How much was that handbag?”

CLIENT: ”A lot … But don’t tell my husband, he doesn’t know.”

ME: “No worries.”

I Wish I’d Started This Blog Earlier

I began writing this in January 2017, now about eight months. My commitment was a blog post a week, which has been admittedly difficult to keep up.

I decided I wanted this to feel more like journal entries of my life and less so “what color is popular” type writing. Frankly, I don’t care about popular anything, and I’ll dodge these types of questions if asked to my face.

Drip by drip, I see the topics accumulate, I just needed to start.




Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with monthly (or so) e-mails.